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The ROE Act

In 2020, Massachusetts upheld its reputation as a national leader in reproductive rights by passing key provisions of the ROE Act and reducing and removing medically unnecessary barriers to care. 

These decades-old restrictions were discriminatory and racist,  keeping abortion care out of reach for primarily Black and brown people, young people, immigrants, people with low incomes, and LGBTQ+ people, all of whom already face systemic barriers to care.

Because of the hard work of advocates, patients seeking an abortion later in pregnancy will no longer be forced to fly across the country to receive care, far away from their families and support systems. And now, Massachusetts has become the first state to legislatively ease burdensome restrictions on young people’s access to care, ensuring 16- and 17-year-olds are no longer forced to obtain a parent’s permission or endure a shame-inducing court process to receive abortion care.

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Medically unnecessary barriers to abortion.

Although young people have been trusted to make decisions about all other pregnancy care, young people in Massachusetts were forced to go before a judge to receive permission to get an abortion. 

The state simply cannot mandate family communication, and it doesn’t need to. Overall, 77% of young people turn to a parent or another trusted adult when making decisions about an unintended pregnancy, regardless of the law. Of young people who didn't inform their parents, 1/3 said that they made that decision because they feared being kicked out of the house, physically harmed, or abused in another way. Young people are capable of making the decisions that are best for their health, safety, and futures. 

Judges are not equipped to support young people, and the mandate to go before a judge simply forces young people out of state. In fact, when the law mandating parental permission took effect, the percentage of young people traveling out of state for abortion care rose by 300%.

Additionally, Massachusetts’ abortion bans forced patients seeking an abortion later in pregnancy to leave the state in order to receive care, oftentimes as far as Colorado or New Mexico. In these cases, patients were forced to pay out of pocket for travel and care, making abortion accessible only to those with means and resources. In a state with the best doctors in the world, there was no reason to send patients out of state for care doctors here are trained to provide. 

Young people have better access to abortion care than ever before.

Now that key provisions of the ROE Act are law, 16- and 17-year-olds can seek abortion care in consultation with their health care provider, without medically unnecessary delays.

Patients can now access abortion care later in pregnancy here in Massachusetts.

Before provisions of the ROE Act became law, Massachusetts law forced patients facing a fatal fetal diagnosis to travel across the country to seek abortion later in pregnancy. Now, people can access this care right here, without leaving their communities and support networks.

The right to abortion is officially codified into Massachusetts law.

The ROE Act corrects medically inaccurate language, abolishes medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion, and codifies the principles of reproductive freedom into law.

 

We partnered with our legislative champions Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, Representative Patricia Haddad, and Representative Jay Livingstone to pass the ROE Act, remove medically unnecessary barriers to care in Massachusetts, and fight back against the new anti-abortion majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Learn about our new legislative agenda

Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund supporters spent two years fighting for this well won victory for abortion rights. Advocates met with their state lawmakers, sent thousands of emails, made call after call, and showed up for countless events across the state to remove barriers to care. 

Even when anti-abortion extremists and the Baker-Polito administration tried to stop us, we fought back by working with ROE Act champions on Beacon Hill to reject efforts to water down and then veto the bill. Our supermajority of ROE Act champions listened to the voices of activists, patients, parents, and doctors across the state: more equitable abortion access is now the law of the land.

Join us for our next fight. 

Sign up to take action with the Advocacy Fund to expand reproductive freedom in Massachusetts. 

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