Abortion is protected in Massachusetts, even if the Supreme Court strikes down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court released a statement confirming the authenticity of the Politico report Tuesday.
Abortion is legal for up to and in some cases beyond 24 weeks in Massachusetts under the ROE Act, which was passed in December 2020.
State Sen. Becca Rausch was one of the cosponsors of the ROE Act, which expands abortion access at the state level. The law, which was passed despite a veto from the governor, allows for abortions after 24 weeks when deemed necessary by a doctor, and also lowers the age you can get an abortion without parental consent from 18 to 16.
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"If you are a Massachusetts resident and you have abortion care or any other reproductive care your appointment stands," Rausch said.
Attorney General Maura Healey, a gubernatorial candidate with a track record of defending abortion rights, made clear that abortion will remain legal in Massachusetts Monday night.
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"Abortion will remain legal in Massachusetts," Healey wrote on Twitter. “If SCOTUS does overturn Roe, it would upend families and rob patients of their bodily autonomy. Massachusetts will be a leader across this country and stand for compassion, care, and respect when others won’t.”
The 1973 decision guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights. Without it, abortion access would vary depending on the state. A subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – largely maintained the right.
But the leaked majority opinion, purportedly written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, calls Roe “egregiously wrong from the start.”
Jennifer Driver, senior director of Reproductive Rights at the State Innovation Exchange, said the language in the draft is "outrageous," and yet "unsurprising."
"It's a culmination of decades long plan to end our right to abortion. It also confirms what we already have known, right? That the Supreme Court has been politicized and weaponized by extremist politicians who really want to take away our right to abortion," Driver said. "It will have a devastating impact. But what we know in this moment, abortion is still legal in this country."
An official decision from the Supreme Court is expected to come sometime in late June or early July. Overturning Roe v. Wade would have a devastating impact on women, Driver said, who will be unable to access abortion care. At least 23 states already have laws in place that can be used to restrict legal access.
"If you are in a state where you don't have access, you have to travel a ridiculous amount of miles, you have to take time off of work, it really is this undue burden and that is placed on individuals who are seeking abortion," Driver said. "Abortion is healthcare, and it should be a right across the country regardless of what state you live in."
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker emphasized that the decision would be a "massive setback" for women in states without laws protecting abortion access.
Driver added that the "overwhelming majority" of people in this country want Roe to be upheld.
About a half dozen state and local leaders and reproductive rights activists gathered on the State House steps on Tuesday morning to respond to the Roe v. Wade news.
"I woke up this morning very dejected," Senate President Karen Spilka said. "I believe this is one of the saddest days in the United States' history."
"This is the emergency we all feared. But this is America, this is a clarion call for us to take action. In America, we all have a voice. We will not be silent. We will not go quietly. We will not go on to a devastating future that seeks to treat us as second-class citizens."
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu called it "a cold day in Boston and around the country."
"This morning, I bundled up my boys for school, wrapped them in their winter coats, and I suited up for battle for the fight we're all in -- the fight for their future, for a future all our communities deserve," she said. "This isn't a final decision, but it is one we've been expecting... Today is a fight. We are here, we are ready, we will not back down."
Dr. Jennifer Childs Roshak of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts said they are already starting to get more calls.
"We’re ready for them with open arms we’ll take really get care of folks and we’ll keep helping to fight for their rights," she said.
But on the other side, anti-abortion advocates like CJ Doyle from the Catholic Action League said overturning it would make a difference, but not enough.
"I think you'll see a decline in the numbers but legal abortion will continue in many states and you'll have hundreds of thousands of children die each year," Doyle said.
Several other lawmakers in Massachusetts and around New England reacted to the unprecedented leak with a call for legislation action in order to protect abortion rights. Demonstrations have been growing outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. as people on both sides of the issue react to the leak.
“We knew this decision was likely coming, but today it is just a draft decision — Abortion is still legal here in Massachusetts and across the country," said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. "PPLM is here for our patients today, and always."