Submitted by State Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)
Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) recently joined his colleagues in the Legislature to pass legislation repealing unconstitutional laws that impose criminal penalties for such health and family care treatment as abortion and contraception in Massachusetts. With an uncertain future for federal action on landmark reproductive rights, Massachusetts took decisive action to protect the rights for women across the Commonwealth. The bill was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on Friday, July 27, 2018
“I was proud to join my colleagues in standing up for the rights of women throughout the Commonwealth as the Legislature passed this bill to protect a woman’s access to reproductive healthcare. That access is put in jeopardy when we leave archaic laws on the books” said Rep. Gordon
“It’s critical that we protect the rights of Massachusetts women so they may continue to make their own choices regarding their health,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, (D – Winthrop). “This action takes outdated and misguided laws off the books and makes clear where the Commonwealth stands on reproductive and women’s rights.”
“I’ve been concerned about the impact of archaic laws remaining on the books since the fight for marriage equality,” said Majority Whip Byron Rushing (D – South End). “During the fight for marriage, Governor Romney demanded city and town clerks enforce the ‘1913 law’ that prevent marriages in Massachusetts if they were not legal in the couple’s home state. This law was originally used to prevent interracial couples from coming to Massachusetts to be legally married here. After decades in obscurity, and not being enforced – but still ‘on the books’ – it was then used to prohibit marriage for same-sex couples. It is critical that we take all archaic laws off of our books because we never know how an old, hateful law will be used in new, hateful ways in the future.”
Five of the Massachusetts laws the bill repealed were previously deemed unconstitutional under several U.S. Supreme Court rulings including Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), Roe v. Wade (1973), and Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (1983). The legislation also repeals the requirement that a person be married in order to receive contraceptives.