Massachusetts lawmakers have acted to ensure that no matter what the Supreme Court rules, abortion will not be banned in their state.
The state legislature approved the Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act, known by its acronym, the NASTY Women Act.
The act wipes away a 173-year-old law that banned “procuring a miscarriage,” a law that had not been enforced since the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America.
Massachusetts State Senate President Harriette Chandler said that the act’s passage was a response to fears that the growing conservative presence on the U.S. Supreme Court could create an environment in which Roe v. Wade is overturned. President Donald Trump recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“I think people are beginning to realize these are strange times we live in. Nothing is impossible, and we’ve got to have a ‘plan B.’ If these laws are enforced, what do we do? We’re not willing to sit back and say, ‘Well, it’s not going to happen here.’ The word for that is denial,” Chandler said, according to The Hill.
Gov. Charlie Baker plans to sign the law.
“We will sign that,” Baker said Monday, according to MassLive.com. “There are many folks in the women’s health community that were particularly concerned about this. The lieutenant governor and I and other folks on our team discussed it, and we do plan to sign it.”
Some said the act was a case of legislative posturing.
“This is one of the most homogenous pro-abortion states in the union … This whole legislation is an exercise in posturing and pandering,” said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.
“We’re a very long way from overturning Roe v. Wade. To listen to some of the rhetoric, you will think that the day after Kavanaugh is confirmed, it will be overturned,” Doyle added.
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts issued a statement supporting the act.
“And most importantly, this bill would ensure that regardless of what happens federally, Massachusetts will remain a firewall of reproductive freedom, where those who need safe abortion care can always get it,” the statement said, according to CNS News.
NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Rebecca Hart Holder said the archaic law could be a powerful weapon if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned.
“We think it’s a real issue. We fear some prosecutor might see it or use it. And then we’ve got this period where a woman or a doctor could go to jail,” she said. “We want to remove any ambiguity and latent danger from the Massachusetts General Laws to ensure that women have unfettered access to abortion care when and if they need it.”
But state representative Elizabeth Poirier questioned the need for legislative panic.
“It’s such a crazy thought that we are talking about this now!” she said, according to The Boston Globe. “I mean how far in the distant future is this proposal dealing with? Five years? Ten years? Why are we in such a rush to do this?”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.