In the wake of a leaked, draft Supreme Court ruling suggesting the court will overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationally, elected Democrats and advocates gathered outside the State House Tuesday to affirm that abortion care will remain legal in Massachusetts and urge people to organize against efforts in other states and at the national level to roll back access.
“Today is the day we galvanize,” U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark said. “We can despair, and then we organize.”
A 2020 Massachusetts law codified the right to abortion in the state. Proponents pitched the policy, which was tucked into the fiscal year 2021 state budget, as a critical safeguard in the face of potential Supreme Court action and as other states sought to restrict abortion.
“We were worried something like this would happen, and I want to also say that I woke up this morning very dejected, outraged, angry. I believe this is one of the saddest days in the United States’ history,” said Senate President Karen Spilka, who also released a statement declaring that “in Massachusetts, abortion is, and will remain, safe and legal.”
The Legislature passed the 2020 measure into law over a veto from Gov. Charlie Baker, who said at the time that he “strongly” supports a woman’s right to access reproductive health care, but could not support sections “that expand the availability of later term abortions and permit minors age 16 and 17 to get an abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian.”
Baker said over Twitter Tuesday, when he was in Washington, D.C. for meetings with Biden Administration officials, that he was “proud that MA has and will always protect every woman’s right to choose what is best for them.”
“If SCOTUS overturns Roe, it would be a massive setback for women in states without responsible laws protecting abortion access and reproductive health services,” he wrote.
Massachusetts Citizens For Life said in a statement Tuesday that it is “suspected by both sides of the aisle that the Court will rightfully take the appropriate ruling to overturn Roe.”
“Though this ruling would overturn Roe, it would not outlaw abortion,” the group said. “Pro-life supporters and the press need to understand that such a ruling in Dobbs would return the abortion issue to elected representatives in each state legislature. Unfortunately, abortions will continue to be available across the country in many places, including here in Massachusetts. There will be much work left to do to protect our most vulnerable citizens and support women and men faced with unplanned pregnancies.”