In New York, where consistency is scarce, and the laws that protect human lives about as right as a stopped clock, targeting some, saving others, the womb is now more dangerous than Death Row. On Tuesday, NY State passed a bill that will ensure abortion remains legal within its borders even if Roe is overturned. Yet at this time, the death penalty has been ditched by the Empire State.
What does that mean for Massachusetts? Do you need the quick facts? Read on:
To start off, law in our Commonwealth is not so different than the recently passed bill in New York. In Massachusetts, you can have your child killed up through viability if a doctor suggests your health -- mental or physical -- may be at risk. But due to the tilting balance in our nation's Supreme Court in favor of justices more sympathetic to protecting the most vulnerable of human lives, pro-abortion activists are pushing for state laws that would make the overthrow of Roe a non-issue.
As the Globe reports: " [...] in states such as New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island [activists] aim to affirmatively declare abortion legal within their borders and lift vestigial laws that could be interpreted to restrict access in the absence of Roe."
If Roe is overturned, 16 states could reinstate laws that protect human life from fertilization onward. New York and Massachusetts aren't in that number.
However, in Massachusetts, we still have laws that require parental consent for minors wishing to obtain an abortion. Unlike New York, post-RHA, we also have a 1974 state law enacted after Roe ruling made to keep abortion "safe and rare", or to limit abortion as much as possible. Our 24-hour waiting period for an abortion is another check on the abortion industry, preying on women who need help, although it is currently rarely enforced. On top of that, though we allow for abortions after 24-weeks to "save the life of the mother" (never necessary), if such an abortion is recommended, it must be performed in a hospital.
In New York, practically speaking, the RHA dispenses with any of those checks, as well as promoting abortion...
- before 24 weeks for any reason
- after 24 weeks if the child is deemed "not viable" or pregnancy is determined a "risk to the mother's health"
- up to birth because this law does not sufficiently define what constitutes a great enough risk to "health" of the mother or "viability"
- effectively legalizes and promotes abortion at any level of development, at any stage of pregnancy
- dispensing with all checks, restrictions, waiting periods, or regulations
- removing preborn children from the legal definition of homicide (thus, you could not prosecute someone who assaulted you during your pregnancy if your child died in-utero due to that assault)
- allowing non-physicians to perform abortions (already a legal precedent in Vermont)
Both pro-life and pro-choice activists have called this kind of law extreme. Let's have a quick hurrah for the small protections Massachusetts continues to hold for our women and children. But let's also look at the term trailblazing.
New York is blazing a trail. New York is progressing past the safe, legal, and rare to a state-celebration of human abortion.
We in Massachusetts have often been trailblazers in the promotion of human dignity. We birthed Susan B. Anthony. We welcomed the Underground Railroad. We aren't so different from New York right now; and at the same time, we are. We are still at the crossroads, and we, the people of Massachusetts, can rally to enact the exact opposite legislation from New York, so that when Roe goes, we proudly support women and cherish our children.
In 2017 we worked to amend our State Constitution to exclude abortion from publicly-funded healthcare. We also have laws on the books that distinguish sexual and reproductive healthcare from the violent act of abortion. This is the precedent we can be proud of standing on. But it is a precedent built by people for our fellow people: human, vulnerable, marginalized.
It takes you to act. And me. To restore respect for human dignity where it is most at risk, most invisible, most ignored.
These are the facts. Be one of the advocates here, to promote a post-Roe state without violence.
You can join the movement to advocate for the marginalized and the unborn in Massachusetts at MCFL Advocates and Chapters.