by Kelvey Vander Hart
While whispers of a possible Roe v. Wade reversal continue, the Massachusetts lawmakers have decided to ensure that abortions remain legal in the state, regardless of what happens in Washington. A bill was signed by Governor Charlie Baker on Friday that repeals a state ban on abortion that traces its roots back to 1845.
Governor Baker is a pro-abortion Republican. “Here in Massachusetts, we will not compromise on a woman’s right to her own decisions,” he stated.
The bill that was signed does not just repeal the ban on abortion; it also repeals some older laws that are still on the books, such as a prohibition on unmarried women using contraceptives. Baker referred to the laws that were repealed as “antiquated” and “inappropriate.”
Baker was also one of three Republican governors who did not sign a letter that was sent to key leaders in the U.S. Senate supporting the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Pro-abortion activists in the state are thrilled with this repeal. “With an uncertain future in terms of federal action on these issues, it’s up to the states,” stated Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Democrat.
“For years, Justice Kennedy has held together a delicate balance on the Supreme Court protecting access to abortion and the fundamental ability of women to control their lives,” added Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts in support for the repeal. “The lawsuits necessary to overturn Roe are making their way through the courts right now.”
The repeal bill was titled Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act — or NASTY Women Act, for short.
While there was widespread support for this repeal in Massachusetts, many are questioning whether or not it was necessary. The ban has been dormant for decades, and furthermore, a 1981 ruling by the highest court in the state already created protections for abortion access.
Considering the timing of this repeal, one could argue that it is symbolic above anything else. Only time will tell if the worst fears of Massachusetts’ pro-abortion supporters are realized in the form of a Kavanaugh confirmation.
Photo credit: Matt Kieffer via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0