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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. The state legislature passed key provisions of the ROE Act in December 2020 to allow more people to seek abortion care in Massachusetts - without unnecessary barriers.

Politicians have no place in personal medical decisions. But in Massachusetts, politically motivated abortion restrictions delay and deny care. 

These restrictions are harmful and racist, pushing care out of reach for Black and brown communities that already face systemic barriers to care.   

So while abortion may be safe and legal here, it’s not fully accessible - and it never has been.

That’s why passing key pieces of the ROE Act, proactive legislation to improve access to care and remove these barriers, is a major victory.

Our health and our rights shouldn't have to wait. Now, more people can get the care they need, when and where they need it.

The ROE Act protects young people.

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.

Although young people have been trusted to make decisions about all other pregnancy care, young people in Massachusetts had to seek permission from a parent or guardian to have an abortion. If they couldn't turn to their parents, they had to 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 discriminatory practice of sending young people before a judge served 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 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.

Medically unnecessary requirements don't protect young people: these barriers shame and marginalize 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.

  • 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 ROE Act corrects medically inaccurate language, abolishes medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion, 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, MBAPresident and CEO, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts

 

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