We had been warned this moment was probably coming, but it still feels like a punch to the gut.
The Supreme Court’s draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization drags us backward as a nation, overturning nearly 50 years of settled law enshrined by Roe v. Wade.
It’s an escalation of the war on women, and it says to people who can get pregnant that they are second class citizens in the eyes of the law.
For people of my generation and younger in this country, we have never known a world without a Constitutional right to abortion. It is disorienting, infuriating, and tragic to think that this is happening in the year 2022.
The implications of this decision will be horrific, particularly for working class/poor, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people who become pregnant.
It is important to stress the draft decision is not yet final, and that abortion is still legal at this time.
That said, this is an urgent call to action.
We are facing the likelihood of abortion being outlawed in approximately half of the states in just a matter of weeks or months, and we face the possibility of a nationwide ban if Republicans are able to seize more power in Washington.
Moreover, the logic of the draft opinion signals threats to marriage equality, access to contraception, and other fundamental rights.
We must resolve to defend the right to abortion at every level of government and in every venue and support reproductive health care and justice for all.
As your State Representative, I am proud to say I have been a staunch defender of the right to abortion and a champion of reproductive freedom. I’ve worked with advocates to introduce legislation to eliminate barriers to accessing abortion, and I’ve worked with colleagues to incorporate these concepts into bills I’ve co-sponsored and voted to pass into law.
For these efforts, I’ve always earned the highest ratings from pro-choice organizations such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL. I see this work as a reflection of our shared values in Cambridge and Somerville, where we overwhelmingly stand in strong support of reproductive freedom and equity.
Our state legislature recognized the gathering threats to Roe v. Wade after Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat and Trump appointed three Supreme Court justices during his term. Fortunately, we’ve taken numerous steps to prepare for this moment — and we are now looking to do more.
In 2017, I joined with colleagues to pass the ACCESS law, which protected Massachusetts residents from a Trump executive order against birth control. This legislation also expanded access to contraception (with no co-pays) and continued to strengthen Massachusetts’s position as a leader on reproductive health care.
Then in late 2020, in response to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, we passed the ROE Act to remove the most significant remaining barriers to accessing abortion in our state and to codify the ruling of Roe v. Wade into our state laws.
I was proud to co-sponsor the Roe Act and to speak in support of it on many occasions. I also voted for it a second time because Governor Baker vetoed the bill and returned it to us on Christmas Eve. Getting a super-majority to overcome the Governor’s veto of the Roe Act was an incredible challenge and a triumph for reproductive rights advocates and the legislature (thank you to Speaker DeLeo, House Lead Sponsors Pat Haddad and Jay Livingstone, and many others).
Also, just last week, the House passed its version of the FY23 state budget, and for the first time in history we included funding for abortion access and abortion funds directly in the state budget. In addition, my amendment to fund LGBTQ+ after school programming in the City of Somerville was also included. As other states move to ban classroom discussion of gender and sexuality, and as the Supreme Court now threatens marriage equality, it is so important that we uplift our LGBTQ+ students and neighbors.
Yesterday, I joined with thousands of others in front of the State House to express my outrage at the Supreme Court’s draft opinion and to pledge to never stop fighting back until we make abortion fully available across the United States.
I join with others in calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, to investigate and/or impeach several of the Supreme Court justices, to eliminate the filibuster, and to reform and expand the Supreme Court in an effort to restore some legitimacy to an institution that Republicans have shamelessly politicized and tarnished.
Here on the state level, I am in active conversation with the Speaker’s office and my legislative colleagues on the potential for establishing stronger provider protections and exploring options to resist any extradition efforts related to vigilante laws in other states. I’m also co-sponsoring legislation to make access to medication abortion care available in campus health centers at our public colleges.
Right now, I want to pass along some recommendations for out-of-state abortion funds:
I also want to highlight the work of Self Managed Abortion; Safe and Supported, which provides important information and options to access safe abortion with pills, regardless of the current status of the law.
In closing, I am determined to do my part to ensure Massachusetts will continue to be a beacon of reproductive freedom. Thank you for all that you are doing, too.
As always, I welcome your feedback, suggestions, thoughts and concerns.
This opinion article originally ran on Rep. Mike Connolly’s blog on May 4, 2022.
Mike Connolly (D) is a Massachusetts state representative for the 26th Middlesex District, including parts of Cambridge and Somerville.