More abortion protections for Mass. residents: Senate working with AG Maura Healey’s office at strengthening law

Alison Kuznitz | MassLive | May 13, 2022

The Massachusetts Senate is exploring additional measures to protect abortion rights as the Supreme Court remains on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, Senate President Karen Spilka said Friday.

The Ashland Democrat did not delve into specific legislation during a WGBH interview, though Spilka confirmed her chamber is evaluating “language” with reproductive advocates and Attorney General Maura Healey’s office. While Massachusetts has enshrined abortion access into state law, Spilka and other top lawmakers have pledged to defend reproductive health care rights nationwide and strengthen protections in the commonwealth.

“It’s a horrible decision. It was a very sad day in not only my life, but I think in the life of our country — that leak of that tentative court ruling,” Spilka told Boston Public Radio hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, as she referenced Politico’s reporting of the draft majority opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.

“It was a gut punch to the rights of women and all people, not only Massachusetts but the country,” Spilka said. “I believe Massachusetts has been and will continue to be a leader in protecting reproductive rights and access to reproduction (care).”

Spilka’s comments come a day after Gov. Charlie Baker said Massachusetts and other states must be prepared to help Americans in states where abortions are banned, should the Supreme Court move to overturn Roe. But without a final decision yet, Baker did not outline possible legislative paths to safeguard abortion rights either.

“I do think for the short-term, again, until we see the decision, it’s hard to draw broad conclusions,” Baker said during a WBUR interview Thursday. “But I do think there are going to be people who are seeking these services who live in states where it will be hard to access them, and that’s something that other states where those services are available are gonna have to step up.”

Lawmakers are expected to make significant investments in abortion care in fiscal 2023.

The Senate proposed $2 million in its budget unveil earlier this week, targeted at security and infrastructure needs to enhance safety at abortion and reproductive health care providers. The House, meanwhile, allocated $500,000 in its budget.

During the WBUR interview, Spilka lamented the prospect of Congress superseding Massachusetts state law and passing a nationwide abortion ban.

“One thing that continues to astound me: These same Republican politicians are the ones that constantly say states’ rights should prevail (and) federal government should not intrude into people’s decisions and independence,” Spilka said. “And yet here in an instance like that, they would dive headfirst right into states’ rights, and I believe violate states’ rights, as well. If there was something that pervasive passed by Congress, then that is hopefully a very long way off and not going to happen.”

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