Area lawmakers, advocates weigh in on state’s passage of ROE Act

  • The Massachusetts State House in Boston. FILE PHOTO

  • BLAIS

  • HINDS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/4/2021 4:56:18 PM

Local activists and legislators reacted positively to the passage of legislation last week that expands abortion access in Massachusetts.

“I’m very happy that this is going to go through,” said Nan Clark, 91, of Chesterfield.

Clark was among the constituents who reached out to state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, urging her to support the ROE Act.

The legislation, which was enacted into law after the House and Senate overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto last week, puts an affirmative right to abortion into state law; eliminates the need for parental consent for 16- and 17-year-olds to get an abortion; and allows abortions after 24 weeks in the case of lethal fetal abnormalities and when the fetus is incapable of sustained life outside the womb.

The vote to override the governor’s veto was 107 to 46 in the House and 32 to 8 in the Senate.

“The House just reaffirmed its support of reproductive health care with that vote,” said Blais, one of the 107 representatives who voted in favor of the override.

State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, voted in the Senate to override Baker’s veto.

“It was time for an update, especially given the national climate,” Hinds said. “We spoke with a loud voice.”

In vetoing the legislation, the governor said that while he agrees with parts of it, he opposes eliminating parental consent for 16- and 17-year-olds to get an abortion. Baker tried to amend the legislation prior to the veto after it came to his desk as part of the budget, but this amendment was overwhelmingly rejected by both the House and Senate.

Blais said she heard from constituents for and against the ROE Act, and that hearing from Clark was particularly powerful. She even drove a sign supporting the ROE Act out to Clark’s house because the issue was so important to the Chesterfield resident.

“There will always be abortion,” Clark said. “After Roe v. Wade, there were safe abortions.”

Clark also spoke about the importance of sex education for boys and girls, free contraception and keeping Planned Parenthood open.

Advocating for the law was the ROE Act Coalition, an alliance of groups from across the state that includes the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts.

“I just can’t believe it happened,” said Carrie Baker, president of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts. “We’ve been working so hard for two whole years.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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