We need to pass the ROE Act to protect young people from harm, ensure they have timely access to the care they need, and put an end to burdensome political restrictions that delay and deny care.
Today, a person under 18 must get the consent of a parent to get an abortion, or they must go to court in Massachusetts. This mandate has created a two-tiered health care system for young people — many young people have supportive families, but those that do not already face major barriers to health care. This system was built with the sole intention of creating additional legal barriers to abortion and block young people—especially teens of color and young people with low incomes—from care.
Young deserve the ROE Act. Learn more below.
Young people usually go to their parents if they are pregnant, no matter the law.
First of all, communication between young people and their parents is strong. The vast majority of young people tell their parents if they become pregnant, regardless of whether they are legally required to. This is true today and this will be true when we pass the ROE Act.
Let’s say that one more time for emphasis – the vast majority of pregnant young people go to their parents, and they discuss as a family what the right next step is.
But some young people can't confide in their parents.
The ROE Act would create a support system for the young people who cannot tell their parents when they are pregnant. Studies show that these young people:
Fear violence, coercion, or rejection if they tell their parents;
Have sick or absent parents;
Are in foster care or they are emancipated (yes, you read that right – emancipated minors cannot consent to their own abortion care in Massachusetts);
Can predict their parents’ reactions accurately and their fears are legitimate.
Judges are barred from reporting the abuse of minors. Abortion providers are legally required to.
For young people who are experiencing rape and violence, the judicial bypass system can keep them from getting professional support and legal assistance. They are forced to navigate a complicated and medically unnecessary legal process before they can connect with a medical provider. Even worse, judges are not trained to recognize the signs of abuse and, even if they did, they are constitutionally bound to keep the judicial bypass proceedings confidential. In contrast, abortion providers are mandated reporters and trained to provide support to young people.
The current system effectively punishes young people of color for seeking health care.
The young people who must go through the judicial bypass process already face huge obstacles to quality medical care, financial stability, and emotional wellbeing. And then, in a moment where they have made the decision that they are not ready to become a parent themselves, another obstacle appears before them—they are forced to go to court.
These are disproportionately young people of color and young people living in poverty. One can understand why these young people—who already have very real anxiety towards the courts system—feel that they are being punished.
The court process only exists to delay and deny care.
The crazy part – virtually none of these cases are denied. So current law is forcing young people to get a lawyer, skip school, find transportation to and from court, and defend themselves to a judge—only to get a rubber stamp on a decision they already knew was right for them.
This is why leading medical organizations universally oppose parental involvement mandates.
The American Medical Association
The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
The American Public Health Association
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The American Academy of Pediatrics
...literally all oppose mandatory parental consent laws like the one in Massachusetts.
The ROE Act would put an end to the practice of forcing the most vulnerable young people in Massachusetts to delay their medical care and denying them access to supportive adults in their lives.
If a young person is pregnant, they should have access to medical care as soon as possible. The ROE Act would remove harmful barriers so that young people are not prevented from meeting with medical providers and forced to delay their abortion care later into pregnancy.
Young people can consent to continuing their pregnancy—they can consent to their ownchildren’s medical care—without a parent or a judge, but they cannot consent to their own abortion care. Current law wasn’t designed to improve communications within families, or to protect minors from harm – it was written deliberately and explicitly to limit access to safe, legal abortion. That was the goal in 1974 when the law was passed and that is how the system works today. Full stop. The ROE Act will stop old anti-abortion politicians from 40 years ago from dictating who can access abortion care and when.
The ROE Act will ensure that teenagers experiencing violence, rape, or incest get support from trained professionals as soon as possible. Abortion providers, like all licensed medical professionals, are
Trained to recognize the signs of abuse and care for young people; and
Connected to networks of other support services.
The ROE Act would ensure young people in dangerous situations are immediately connected to the support and legal services.
Abortion is health care.
We are united in the fight to pass the ROE Act and protect young people in Massachusetts.
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