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Friedman on Roe: 'We won't be silent'

Cindy Friedman

Sen. Cindy Friedman has spoken out against a draft Supreme Court decision that lays out a legal case to overturn two key abortion decisions: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

YourArlington partner Patch reported May 5 that the draft, which was published by Politico Monday night, shows that the court is on the path toward rescinding abortion access, which would lead to it being outlawed in many states.

Photos of Arlington protest >>

However, Massachusetts is one of several states with a state law protecting abortion access and tate lawmakers recently expanded access to the medical after a veto by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Now, many local lawmakers are taking to social media to voice their support of reproductive rights.

"I marched in Washington in the '70s to protect a woman's right to choose," said Friedman in a Tweet Tuesday morning. "Almost 50 years later, the Supreme Court delivers a disgusting, but not surprising, assault on this right. We won't be silent, and if you were looking for a wake-up call for action, the phone just rang."

 According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than a dozen states could ban abortion instantly if Roe v. Wade was overturned. Every state in New England, except New Hampshire, as well as New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware have similar state-level abortion protections, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Politico highlighted that the draft decision is preliminary and subject to change due to internal Supreme Court deliberations.

Mass. leaders pledge to aid out-of-state abortion patients

Separately, Patch reported May 5:

A press conference was held Tuesday afternoon where state and local leaders teamed up to show their support for abortion rights and Planned Parenthood after Politico published a leaked draft of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would allow decisions on abortion to be made on a state-by-state basis.

The Supreme Court decision draft that was leaked Monday night would overrule the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide and could lead to abortion bans in states throughout the United States.

Professor Kathy Simmonds, Ph.D., MPH, RN, WHNP-BC, in the School of Nursing at the MGH Institute of Health Professions and abortion clinician for the past 30 years provided Patch with some insight on what overturning Roe means for healthcare in Massachusetts. 

"Massachusetts will be a magnet for people from other states because we have a lot of healthcare facilities, and that's going to be burdensome on the abortion workforce," says Simmonds. "People who work in the abortion field are already feeling it and already planning, but it's sort of like planning for a pandemic, right? You don't really know what you need until you need it."

If Roe V. Wade did become overturned, Massachusetts residents would still be protected by the state-level ROE Act, which allows abortions after 24 weeks in cases with a fatal fetal anomaly and in situations when deemed necessary by a doctor.

News conference Tuesday

In a news conference with Massachusetts leaders Tuesday, May 3, Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts said the Bay State is ready to support patients seeking abortion care from other states and has already done so in the past.

"We are getting incoming calls from other states from patients who are living in the deep-red states," said Childs-Roshak. "We've taken care of patients for Texas in particular in both our Springfield and Boston offices. We're ready, and we're willing."

There are 26 states set to ban abortion care overnight if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Childs-Roshak explained.

"More couples will continue with unwanted pregnancies, but they're not likely to relinquish children for adoption," Simmonds said. "They will raise them, but in suboptimal conditions, so without enough resources to be able to parent healthily and that might be because they're struggling with substance use or domestic violence."

"The children who are born because somebody can't get an abortion are not facing a bright future as a result, and the social services are not there to support those parents," Simmonds added.

Out-of-state abortion can be costly, and Planned Parenthood said they are currently looking for ways to help patients find the care they need, including monetary ways to help them get to Massachusetts.

Local officials confirmed that Massachusetts has already seen patients from New Hampshire - which recently made it illegal to end a pregnancy after 24 weeks and requires every patient to get an ultrasound before the abortion, and from Texas - where abortion is banned at six weeks.

"We are going to see some increase in maternal mortality because there are some people who will never have the means to travel, and they will be desperate to end a pregnancy," Simmonds explained. "We know from history they will do all kinds of things that are very harmful to their bodies to be able to try to end a pregnancy. We're going to see some uptick in that and we're already seeing it in the states where restrictions have been applied."

During Tuesday's press conference, Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of Reproductive Equity Now said she's concerned some people won't be able to afford to travel to Massachusetts for the procedure.

"This will be a devastating unprecedented health care crisis," Holder said. "Pregnant people, especially poor people, Black and Brown people, LGBTQ people will face extraordinary barriers to care."

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu expressed her concerns about the draft ruling during the conference Tuesday.

"This is a devastating moment for our country, when lives are being threatened by a fringe majority determined to drag us back to the dangers of decades past," Wu said. "It's also a call to action - that Massachusetts must continue to lead. In Boston, we affirm our absolute commitment to protecting reproductive rights as a core to building a city for everyone. We are here. We are ready. And we will continue to organize and legislate and fight for the future our communities deserve."

March 18, 2022: Disabilities group names Friedman Legislator of the Year

These news summaries, which include opinion, was published Thursday, May 5, 2022.

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