Massachusetts Just Got Rid Of An 173-Year-Old Law Banning Abortion

photographed by Beth Sacca.
Massachussets took a preemptive measure to protect reproductive rights in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion access is put at risk.
On Friday, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the NASTY Women Act (short for the Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act) into law. The legislation repeals a series of dormant, decades-old statutes on issues such as premarital sex, birth control, and adultery — including a ban on abortion dating back to 1845.
These laws have not been enforced for years. However, local lawmakers created the bill in response to the possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned now that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring and President Donald Trump has a shot at appointing a second anti-abortion justice.
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"I think people are beginning to realize these are strange times we live in. Nothing is impossible, and we’ve got to have a 'plan B.' If these laws are enforced, what do we do?" Massachusetts State Senate President Harriette Chandler told Time. "We’re not willing to sit back and say, 'Well, it’s not going to happen here.' The word for that is denial."
Until today, Massachusetts was on of the 10 states with unenforced pre-Roe abortion bans in the books. Four states — Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota — also have "trigger laws" in place that would automatically ban abortion the moment Roe is reversed.
But despite the Trump administration's efforts to make abortion illegal, the reality is that Roe v. Wade has a record-high level of support. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday, 71% of Americans don't want the landmark decision to be reversed.
In a statement provided to Refinery29, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue celebrated that the state is taking measures to protect a woman's right to choose an abortion.
“Even a blue state like Massachusetts had laws on the books making abortion criminal and women subject to punishment. Thankfully, Governor Baker was moved to take action and we applaud him for protecting the women and families of Massachusetts," she said. "But the truth remains in far too many states, gutting Roe puts women, families, and doctors in immediate peril. In addition to asking every senator to vote no on Kavanaugh, we need to urge state legislators to reverse decades of attacks on women at the state level. The urgency is real."
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