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What is the ROE Act?

The ROE Act is our chance to dismantle discriminatory barriers to safe, legal abortion in Massachusetts, but only if we act now. Contact your legislator today.

Politicians have no place in personal medical decisions. But in Massachusetts, anti-abortion politicians enacted a set of restrictions on abortion decades ago that continue to delay and deny care today. 

The U.S. Supreme Court guaranteed the right to abortion across the country with the landmark case Roe v. Wade in 1973. But Roe is a minimum standard for abortion access, because that right is meaningless without full access to care. Today, Massachusetts residents face unjust barriers to safe, legal abortion. That’s why the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts is leading the charge to pass the ROE Act, proactive legislation that improves access to care.

The promise of Roe v. Wade has never been a reality for Black communities and other people of color because of the racist policies that have pushed reproductive health care out of reach. So while abortion may be safe and legal here, it’s not fully accessible - and it never has been. 

Abortion is health care, and health care is a fundamental right. Join us to pass the ROE Act and ensure that abortion is safe, legal, and fully accessible for all in Massachusetts.

The ROE Act protects young people.

Although young people are trusted to make decisions about all other pregnancy care, young people in Massachusetts must seek permission from a parent or guardian to have an abortion. If they can’t turn to their parents, they must go before a judge. No young person should have to navigate the court system to seek basic reproductive health care.

Young people seeking an abortion don’t need a judge; they need support from medical professionals and access to health care. The current system serves only to delay care. The ROE Act builds protections for young people by ensuring they can seek support from health care providers without unnecessary delays.

Politicians can't mandate family relationships.

77% of young people 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 current law mandating parental permission took effect, the proportion of young people traveling out of state for abortion care rose by 300%.

Courts can't support young people. Health care providers can.

Young people need support from medical professionals who can provide accurate information, access to health care, and a wide range of resources.

Judges are not trained to connect young people with support and are not allowed to report a young person if they’re endangered or being harmed. Abortion providers are mandated reporters – they know how to connect young people with all the resources they need.

Current law doesn't protect young people: it shames and marginalizes them.

Young people of color and those with fewer financial resources disproportionately face the harms of court involvement. The ROE Act ensures that young people can make medical decisions in consultation with a doctor, rather than face further marginalization within the court system.

Young people who have faced judges say that navigating the court system was exhausting, painful, and intimidating – but that having an abortion was straightforward and unproblematic.

The ROE Act trusts patients and providers.

  • Current Massachusetts law forces patients to travel across the country to seek abortion later in pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal diagnosis. The ROE Act ensures that people can access this care right here, without leaving their communities and support networks.
  • The ROE Act codifies safety net coverage for abortion, which already exists all other pregnancy-related care, for people excluded from MassHealth.
  • The ROE Act corrects medically inaccurate language, abolishes medically unnecessary restrictions, and codifies the principles of reproductive freedom into law. 

 

As other state legislatures across the country pass medically unnecessary abortion restrictions, we have an opportunity in Massachusetts to protect and improve access to abortion across our Commonwealth. The right to abortion must not exist in name only: the ROE Act makes access to reproductive freedoms a reality. As a doctor, I’m proud to see Massachusetts pushing forward in the fight to make abortion not only safe and legal, but also fully accessible for every patient.

- Jennifer Childs-Roshak, MD, MBA
President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts

 

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