By Bob Katzen

The House 138-9, Senate 38-0, approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill that would eliminate old state laws restricting or banning abortion and contraception.

The laws repealed include the ban on unmarried people accessing abortion and contraception; the ban on distributing information on how to procure contraception or abortion care; a law which punishes doctors, pharmacists and all healthcare providers for distributing contraception or providing abortion care; and a ban on adultery and fornication.

“I applaud the Massachusetts House of Representatives for voting overwhelmingly to wipe archaic and unconstitutional laws off the books and make clear the right to safe, legal abortion is protected in our state,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO, of Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. “These archaic laws represent a Massachusetts that no longer exists — one in which women did not have autonomy over their bodies, futures, or lives—and one that should never again exist.”

“The vote to pass [the bill] was a decade in the making, and its passage proves that Massachusetts is ready to lead the way in ensuring access to abortion and contraceptive care, especially given the threat to our basic rights on the federal level” said Rebecca Hart Holder, President of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. With this win, Massachusetts now has the momentum necessary to push even further, having laid the groundwork to take the next steps to enshrine protections for abortion access in state law and become a safe haven state for reproductive health care.”

The Catholic Action League called the House vote “hasty, histrionic, and gratuitous, but unsurprising.” “Once again, members of the Massachusetts Legislature have demonstrated their toadying subservience to one of the state’s most powerful special interests—Planned Parenthood,” said the league’s Executive Director C. J. Doyle. “More than 70 percent of state senators and more 64 percent of state representatives are listed by the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts as ‘Champions’ or ‘Allies.'”

Doyle continued, “As the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court asserted as long ago as 1981, in Moe v. Secretary of Administration and Finance, that the state Constitution contains a right to abortion, a possible future U.S. Supreme decision reversing or modifying Roe v. Wade would have no effect in Massachusetts. This measure is more about pandering than lawmaking.”

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