Acting on the possibility that Roe v. Wade may be overturned, the Massachusetts House voted to repeal several state laws Wednesday that once protected unborn babies from abortions.
Appropriately named the “N.A.S.T.Y. Woman Act,” the bill would repeal century-old laws restricting abortion and contraception, The Sun Chronicle reports. N.A.S.T.Y. stands for negating archaic statutes targeting young women.
The state House voted 136 to 9 in favor of their repeal Wednesday. The state Senate voted to repeal the laws in January, and Gov. Charlie Baker, a pro-abortion Republican, said he supports the effort, according to the AP.
The legislation would repeal a ban on distributing information about getting an abortion or contraception and a ban on unmarried people accessing contraception. These bans have not been in effect for decades as a result of Roe v. Wade and other court decisions.
If the U.S. Supreme Court dismantles Roe, the power to regulate abortions and protect unborn babies’ lives would return to the states. Massachusetts lawmakers expressed their desire to keep their state pro-abortion if that happens.
“We’re concerned with what’s going to happen with women’s reproductive rights with the new conservative Supreme Court,” state Rep. Jim Hawkins, a pro-abortion Democrat, told the local news.
“They claim, that, if or when Roe v Wade is overturned, those old laws will kick in and abortion will be illegal in Massachusetts. That would be wonderful but it is exactly the opposite of the truth,” Fox wrote on the pro-life organization’s blog.
“The truth is that Massachusetts is one of the fifteen states which have abortion enshrined in their state Constitutions. Overturning Roe v. Wade will change nothing in the state,” she continued.
She said Massachusetts cannot pass abortion restrictions unless it amends the state constitution. Though the situation is discouraging, the pro-life advocate has not given up hope. She said pro-lifers in the state must double their efforts to restore protections for unborn babies.
The Catholic Action League made similar comments to the AP:
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts called the vote hasty and joined with other critics who argued that lawmakers and abortion rights advocates were hoping to score political points by highlighting archaic laws that can’t be enforced.
“The state Constitution contains a right to abortion,” Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle said in a statement. “A possible future U.S. Supreme Court decision reversing or modifying Roe v. Wade would have no effect in Massachusetts. This measure is more about pandering than lawmaking.”
Abortion activists with Planned Parenthood and NARAL praised the vote Wednesday, but urged lawmakers to do even more to make sure women can abort their unborn babies for any reason up to birth in Massachusetts if Roe is overturned.
Rebecca Hart Holder, president of NARAL Massachusetts, urged lawmakers to “enshrine protections for abortion access in state law and become a safe haven for reproductive healthcare.”
Earlier this summer, moderate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace him, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, could swing the court to a 5-4 conservative majority and be a deciding opinion on vital issues like abortion restrictions and Roe v. Wade.
A federal judge, Kavanaugh has served on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. for more than a decade, where he developed an extensive record of protecting religious liberty and enforcing restrictions on abortion. Pro-life leaders believe he would do the same on the U.S. Supreme Court.