massachusetts politics

Abortion Access Expanded in Mass. as Legislature Overrides Baker's Veto

"Beginning today, pregnant people who once faced near-insurmountable barriers accessing abortion care can now seize the right to control their own bodies," said Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler

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BOSTON – JULY 16: The Massachusetts State House in Boston, MA on July 16, 2020. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Abortion rights will be formally codified in Massachusetts law and access to the procedure will be expanded after the Senate on Tuesday joined the House in overriding Gov. Charlie Baker's veto of the legislation.

The bill, known as the ROE Act, expands access to abortion beyond 24 weeks in cases of fatal fetal anomalies and lower the age of consent from 18 to 16. Current state law allows abortions after 24 weeks only to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed the bill on Christmas Eve, saying that, though he "strongly" supports the right to access reproductive health care, he "cannot support" reducing the age that women are required to get permission from a parent or judge. Baker also proposed qualifying language for abortions after 24 weeks.

The governor's veto kicked the issue back to the Legislature. The Massachusetts House voted to override Baker Monday on a 107-46 vote, and the Senate reaffirmed its support for the abortion access measures (H 5179) on a 32-8 vote.

The Massachusetts Senate is slated to vote on legislation Tuesday that would establish the right to an abortion in state law and make the procedure more accessible. The bill, known as the ROE Act, would expand access to abortion beyond 24 weeks in cases of fatal fetal anomalies and lower the age of consent from 18 to 16.

"Beginning today, pregnant people who once faced near-insurmountable barriers accessing abortion care can now seize the right to control their own bodies," said Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, who filed one of the bills on which the budget language was based. She said supporters had been pushing for the changes for two years.

A coalition of organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and the ACLU pushed to pass the ROE Act on Beacon Hill as women in Massachusetts have been forced to get abortion care elsewhere.

The push gained renewed momentum since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Supreme Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to replace her -- which consolidated a conservative majority on the bench.

In the days since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Supreme Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to replace her -- which consolidated a conservative majority on the bench -- the push to expand abortion access in Massachusetts has gained traction on Beacon Hill.

More Coverage on Expanding Abortion Access in Mass.

The ROE Act would expand access to abortion beyond 24 weeks in cases of fatal fetal anomalies and lower the age of consent from 18 to 16.

Gov. Baker Signs $45.9B Mass. Budget, Returns Abortion Plan

After RBG's Death, Urgency Mounts in Massachusetts Abortion Debate

The State House News Service contributed to this report.

NBC/State House News Service