State Representative Mike Connolly joined with his Cambridge and Somerville delegation colleagues in the Legislature to pass ROE Act Coalition backed abortion access legislation within the FY21 budget.
First, the proposal maintains the requirement that a young person under the age of 16 must have permission from their parents or a judge to seek abortion care. However, it streamlines access for those under 16 years old by allowing remote hearings, minimizing harmful delays to care. Compared to other New England states, Massachusetts had some of the most restrictive laws denying young people abortion access with laws compelling many young people to leave the state for care. The new law allows people 16 and older to consent to abortion care which is consistent with Massachusetts law that allows young people 16 and older to consent to sex. Massachusetts law recognizes young people are capable of making their own medical decisions. Young people can already consent to reproductive health care (like birth control) and all pregnancy-related care (like C-sections). Abortion is the only exception. This amendment ensures the state is no longer intervening in private medical decisions.
The proposal would also enable families to obtain care later in pregnancy in cases of lethal fetal diagnosis — without having to travel across the country. Previously, families had to travel out of state–often as far as Colorado or New Mexico–to access abortion. They must pay for this care out-of-pocket, rent hotel rooms and often do it without spouses or family there to support them. Even states hostile to reproductive rights — such as Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Mississippi — allow abortion care in cases of lethal fetal diagnosis.
Lastly, the proposal codifies reproductive rights into state law.
The passage of this law concludes a months long legislative fight which included overriding the Governor's attempted Veto and rejected the Governor's proposed amendments to weaken the language.
Rep Connolly introduced his own legislation during his first term in office to abolish parental consent for minors seeking abortion care. This session he was proud to cosponsor the ROE Act, the original bill the newly adopted language was based on, as well as testify at the legislative hearing in June of 2019. Most recently Rep Connolly called on House leadership to swiftly adopt these provisions after the passing of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and attended a zoom rally with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and other state and local reproductive justice leaders.