FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: State Rep. Natalie Higgins,
July 23, 2018
Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Women’s Reproductive Rights
(BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the Legislature to pass legislation repealing unconstitutional laws that impose criminal penalties for abortion and contraception in Massachusetts. With an uncertain future for federal action on landmark reproductive rights, Massachusetts took decisive action to protect the rights for women across the Commonwealth.
“It’s critical that we protect the rights of Massachusetts women so they may continue to make their own choices regarding their health,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “This action takes outdated and misguided laws off the books and makes clear where the Commonwealth stands on reproductive and women’s rights.”
“With all of the uncertainty at the federal level, I am proud to join my colleagues in removing these archaic laws off the books in Massachusetts to ensure Massachusetts residents are protected,” said Rep. Natalie Higgins.
“I’ve been concerned about the impact of archaic laws remaining on the books since the fight for marriage equality,” said Majority Whip Byron Rushing (D – South End). “During the fight for marriage, Governor Romney demanded city and town clerks enforce the ‘1913 law’ that prevent marriages in Massachusetts if they were not legal in the couple’s home state. This law was originally used to prevent interracial couples from coming to Massachusetts to be legally married here. After decades in obscurity, and not being enforced – but still ‘on the books’ – it was then used to prohibit marriage for same sex couples. It is critical that we take all archaic laws off of our books, because we never know how an old, hateful law will be used in new, hateful ways in the future.”
“There have been repeated attempts to limit a woman’s right to make decisions about her healthcare choices, contraception and access to care,” said Representative Claire D. Cronin (D-Easton), Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. “We must ensure that if this occurs, in Massachusetts we have taken the necessary steps to protect the right to choice, and access to healthcare and information necessary to make private medical decisions, “said Representative Claire Cronin, House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
Five of the Massachusetts laws the bill repealed were previously deemed unconstitutional under several U.S. Supreme Court rulings including Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), Roe v. Wade (1973), and Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (1983). The legislation also repeals the requirement that a person be married in order to receive contraceptives.
The bill now goes to the Governor for his consideration.