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An Act Updating the Public Health Laws

H. 1608, S. 733

Sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler and Representatives Ellen Story and Byron Rushing 

All women in Massachusetts have the right to access the full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare services and make informed, medically sound decisions about their health and well-being. An Act Updating the Public Health Laws would repeal three archaic, unconstitutional laws that, if enforced, restrict access to contraception and abortion and could jeopardize women’s health and well-being.

At a time when reproductive rights are under attack nationally, Massachusetts must affirm its commitment to protecting women’s right to essential health care and expunge these dangerous laws.

Repealing a Ban on all Abortions

The Massachusetts abortion ban, dating back to the mid-1800s, has never been enjoined by a court, even though it is unconstitutional under both the United States and Massachusetts Constitutions. The ban applies throughout pregnancy and contains no exceptions, even to save a woman’s life. Repealing this ban would protect women’s health by guaranteeing a woman’s ability to make private medical decisions about her pregnancy and removing a legal weapon that could be used to prosecute women and doctors.

Removing a Barrier to Abortion Access

Massachusetts has an unconstitutional requirement that all non-emergency abortions after the twelfth week of pregnancy must be performed in a hospital. There is no medical justification for this barrier to care, and few hospital facilities actually provide such care.  This bill removes this requirement, which the Massachusetts Appeals Court has refused to enforce in light of U.S. Supreme Court precedent finding similar mandates unconstitutional. Repealing this requirement would protect women’s health by helping to ensure that women continue to have access to abortion services after the twelfth week of pregnancy. It would not affect the state’s ban on abortions after 24 weeks except in cases of risk to the woman’s life or health.

Lifting a Ban on Contraception for Unmarried Couples

Massachusetts has an unconstitutional law that bans unmarried people from using contraception. This law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 in Eisenstadt v. Baird, holding that the constitutional right to privacy extends to the reproductive decisions of unmarried people. This bill would strike the word “married” from the sections of the General Laws allowing for contraceptive prescriptions, thereby protecting access to birth control for everyone.

 

If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact Michael Falcone at 617-629-8613 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..