Column: Responding to Misinformation About the ROE Act

I respect that people of good will can have different views about abortion. My long held view is that a woman should have the right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health, including whether to seek an abortion. I don’t believe that our state or federal government should seek to deny or unreasonably restrict this fundamental right.

Given the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and restrictive new abortion laws being passed in other states, access to safe, legal abortion care is now at risk in this country. That is why I have joined many of my legislative colleagues in co-sponsoring the ROE Act. This legislation seeks to protect women’s reproductive rights in Massachusetts so that even if Roe v Wade were to be overturned access to abortion would remain safe and legal in the Commonwealth.

It is very unfortunate that President Trump and some abortion opponents are making blatantly false and inflammatory claims about efforts in Massachusetts and other states to protect access to abortion care, including the outrageous accusation of “infanticide.” These attacks are intended to scare people, stigmatize women’s reproductive health care, and push abortion out of reach for most women.

The decision about whether and when to become a parent is one of the most important life decisions we make. When people can make decisions that are best for their lives, families thrive and we build communities where each of us can participate with dignity and equality.

Current Massachusetts law allows abortion after 24 weeks only if the life or health of the pregnant woman is at risk. The ROE Act adds a narrow exception to allow abortion after 24 weeks in the rare case of a fatal fetal diagnosis. Today, when this tragically occurs – as happened to my wife’s colleague in 2012 – a woman has to leave the state to seek an abortion.

When there are complications late in a pregnancy, any decision to treat the woman to save her health or life would include an attempt to save a viable pregnancy, if at all possible. Healthcare providers performing an abortion must comply with all medical standards and guidelines, just like all other health care professionals.

The ROE Act will ensure access to safe and affordable reproductive health care for all women in Massachusetts, regardless of the actions of the Trump administration or the Supreme Court. It will ensure that a woman’s health drives medical decisions and that families facing complex and deeply personal decisions can get the care they need in Massachusetts.