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The ROE Act

In 2020, Massachusetts upheld its reputation  as a national leader in reproductive health by passing key provisions of the ROE Act and reducing and removing medically unnecessary barriers to care that had been on the books for decades. 

These restrictions were discriminatory and racist,  primarily keeping care out of reach for Black and brown people, young people, immigrants, people with low incomes, and LGBTQ+ people who 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 will no longer be 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 had been forced to go before a judge to receive permission to get an abortion. But the truth is, the information judges are told is confidential, and they are not equipped to support young people. 

The state simply cannot mandate family communication, and 77% of young people already turn to a parent or another trusted adult when making decisions about an unintended pregnancy. Of young people who didn't inform their parents, 1/3 said that they did so because they feared being kicked out of the house, physically harmed, or abused in another way. When the law mandating parental permission took effect, the proportion of young people traveling out of state for abortion care rose by 300%.

Additionally, Massachusetts’ abortion laws required patients seeking an abortion later in pregnancy to leave the state and travel to Colorado or New Mexico in order to receive care. 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. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, with stay at home orders and travel restrictions in place, accessing abortion care became all the more difficult.

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 barriers to their care.

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

Before provisions of the ROE Act became law, Massachusetts law forced patients to travel across the country to seek abortion later in pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal diagnosis. 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.

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. 

And even when anti-abortion extremsists and the Baker-Polito administration tried to stop us, we fought back by working with ROE Act champions on Beacon Hill to rejected amendments to and a veto of the bill. Our supermajority of ROE Act champions listened to the voices of activists, patients, storytellers, and doctors across the state: more equitable abortion access is now the law of the land.