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'Cynical' abortion law struck down

Rachel Roth of Chandler Street, Arlington, submitted this letter to the editor.

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I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a cynical law virtually identical to one it had already declared unconstitutional four years ago.

But people who can get pregnant shouldn’t have to live in fear that our rights will be taken away every time a case goes before the court.

In Massachusetts, we can alleviate this fear by passing the ROE Act (S.1209/H.3320, now in the Committee on the Judiciary). The ROE Act will guarantee the right to abortion in our state’s laws. It will eliminate barriers to abortion that are not based in evidence or good medical practice, barriers which inevitably harm those who have the fewest resources, including women of color, immigrants and young people.

Among other important changes, this bill will allow doctors to care for women who need abortions because something has gone catastrophically wrong with their pregnancy. Today, anyone who finds herself in this situation after 24 weeks has to go to another state, as far away as Colorado, for medical care. The risks of traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic highlight how cruel it is to make someone leave the security of their family, friends and medical team when they need them most, and leave us to wonder about the distraught patients who can’t afford to go.

The ROE Act will also allow young women to make their own decisions about ending a pregnancy. Most teens tell their parents when they are pregnant; however, some fear what will happen if their parents find out, and others are in foster care. These young people have to go before a judge to “prove” they are mature enough to decide to have an abortion. We should stop putting teens through this intimidating process that delays their access to safe medical care.

The right to abortion is a matter of gender equality, economic fairness, and health justice. It also a deeply personal matter of having say over the most basic aspects of our own lives. We need the ROE Act to pass immediately.


This letter was published Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

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