The numbers are in on Massachusetts voters’ views on abortion: An overwhelming majority support a woman’s right to choose. In a new study released this month by the MassINC Polling Group in collaboration with the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, polls revealed high levels of support for abortion access among the state’s Catholic constituents.
More than two-thirds of Catholics polled for the study supported a number of pro-choice initiatives, including a state law guaranteeing the legal right to an abortion, an exception to the ban on abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy to protect a woman’s health or in cases where there is a grave fetal anomaly, ensuring MassHealth continues to offer low-income patients access to abortion services, and requiring all health insurers to cover the cost of abortion services.
The study comes on the heels of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. With Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, many liberals fear that the Supreme Court decision in Roe V. Wade stipulating women’s constitutional right to privacy and in turn abortion could be overturned, opening the floodgates for the gutting of women’s access to abortion services across the country.
In response to this possibility, pro-choice groups in Massachusetts have begun to solidify statewide protections on abortion access, beginning with the passage of S.2260 earlier this summer, which struck down a number of archaic laws restricting women’s access to abortion. These outdated statutes, some of which date back to the mid-1800s, include a ban on illegally procuring a miscarriage, a ban on unmarried people accessing contraception, a ban on distributing information about how to access contraception or abortion care, and a law that punishes pharmacists, doctors, and other healthcare providers for distributing contraception or performing an abortion.
While pro-choice groups celebrated the passage of S.2260, the battle for abortion rights is far from won. For Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the joint NIRH/NARAL study is just the first step in solidifying and expanding Massachusetts’ reputation as a leader in the fight for fair access to abortion.
“Right now the right to abortion is guaranteed by Roe, but if Roe were to fall, the Massachusetts state constitution has been interpreted by our supreme court to have more of an expansive right to abortion then the federal constitution. We believe that the court would find that our state constitution guarantees the right to privacy, but that doesn’t exist in statute, and obviously political winds can change, so we think it’s important to put in statute the fact that women and families in Massachusetts can access abortion care when and if they need it. The legislative session doesn’t begin until January, so as of now we are working on that but it’s something we’re taking a very serious look at considering the confirmation of justice Kavanaugh.”