Mass. Legislators Push NASTY Women Act on Abortion Restrictions

By Gavi Greenspan | July 9, 2018 | 3:37pm EDT

( - Massachusetts legislators are moving to pass the NASTY Women Act, which would repeal pre-Roe v. Wade abortion restrictions in the state, amid concerns about the future of the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion following Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the high court.

The Negating Archaic Statute Targeting Young Women Act (referred to as an Act updating the laws to protect women’s health in the House) would remove the following paragraph from Massachusetts General Law “Except in an emergency requiring immediate action, no abortion may be performed under sections twelve L or twelve M unless the written informed consent of the proper person or persons has been delivered to the physician performing the abortion as set forth in section twelve S; and if the abortion is during or after the thirteenth week of pregnancy, it is performed in a hospital duly authorized to provide facilities for general surgery.”

And substitutes it with the following paragraph: “Except in an emergency requiring immediate action, an abortion shall not be performed under section 12L or 12M unless the written consent of the proper person has been delivered to the physician performing the abortion as set forth in section 12S.”

The Senate passed the NASTY Women Act in January by a 38-0 margin with only one senator abstaining. However, the legislation is still pending in the Massachusetts House.

The extent to which the NASTY Women Act is necessary, even from a pro-abortion perspective, is debatable.

In its 1981 Moe v. Secretary of Administration and Finance decision, a decision which overruled abortion funding restrictions in Massachusetts, the Suffolk County Supreme Judicial Court stated “We think our Declaration of Rights affords a greater degree of protection to the right asserted here than does the Federal Constitution.”

The legislation has been supported by pro-abortion groups and individuals, however. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts issued the following statement:

“Two nearly identical bills, S. 2260, An Act negating archaic statutes targeting young women, filed by Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler, and H954, An Act updating the laws to protect women’s health, filed by Representatives Byron Rushing and Michael Day would remove several of these antiquated statutes from the Massachusetts General Laws. For example, S. 2260 would strike the word “married” each time it appears in the laws in conjunction with contraception access, ensuring that all can get the contraception they need. It would remove statutes criminalizing contraception that the recently-passed ACCESS bill protects and guarantees. And most importantly, this bill would ensure that regardless of what happens federally, Massachusetts will remain a firewall of reproductive freedom, where those who need safe abortion care can always get it.”

Further, The Boston Globe reported that Senate President Harriette Chandler issued the following statement regarding the legislation: “The threat is there. More than ever, the NASTY Women Act needs to be put into law here in Massachusetts so women will feel a measure of safety.”

However, pro-life groups and individuals were less enthusiastic.

The Boston Globe reported that pro-life State Rep. Elizabeth Poirier stated “It’s such a crazy thought that we are talking about this now! I mean how far in the distant future is this proposal dealing with? Five years? Ten years? Why are we in such a rush to do this?”

J. David Franks, Massachusetts Citizens for Life board chairman, explained his objections to the NASTY Women Act in the following statement:

“On the one hand, the NASTY Women Act is a good bit of political theater. In the 1981 decision Moe v. Secretary of Administration and Finance, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court maintained that our state Constitution, the oldest continuously functioning written constitution in the world, “affords a greater degree of protection to a woman’s right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy by abortion than does the Federal Constitution…”

“That is, even should Roe v. Wade be reversed, it would take an amendment to the state’s Constitution to restore the right to life of the most powerless human beings in Massachusetts law. On the other hand, the NASTY Women Act’s specific proposals for the revision of the Massachusetts General Laws are troubling in at least two respects. Though this legislation is supposed to be motivated by a concern for statutes ‘targeting young women,’ the goal seems in fact to be to prop up the abortion industry,” Franks said in a statement.

“Section 1 of the NASTY Women Act removes a requirement that certain abortions be performed ‘in a hospital duly authorized to provide facilities for general surgery.’ Why would anyone who cares about the health of women and girls want to remove such a provision, unless the goal is to advance the profiteering of abortion clinics?” Franks wondered.

“We at Massachusetts Citizens for Life continue to pursue the enforcement of basic health-code standards for these clinics, because even if we lose the child, we never wish to see the health of any woman or girl compromised by the tragedy of abortion. (The other ‘archaic’ provision removed by Section 1 is that consent for an abortion be ‘informed.’ Again, this is a strange position for those who would protect ‘young women.’ Mass. Citizens recognizes that free moral agency requires informed consent, and we also know that women and girls are too often coerced into undergoing abortion. What ‘targets’ young women is a lack of real choice.)

“Section 2 of the NASTY Women Act simply repeals, without making alternative provision, the holding responsible of those who botch an abortion so as to cause the death of a woman or girl. Could we not all instead agree to save ‘young women’ from being targeted by virtually unregulated abortionists?” Franks concluded.


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