Massachusetts Medical Society: MMS statement on the ROE Act

MMS statement on the ROE Act

The Massachusetts Medical Society today announces its support of the ROE Act (H.3320, An Act Removing Obstacles and Expanding Access to Women’s Reproductive Health, and S.1209, An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access), protecting and expanding access to abortion care in Massachusetts.  This support is based on organizational policy pertaining to reproductive health care recently adopted by the Medical Society’s governing body, its House of Delegates.

Medical Society policy supports specifically the elimination of required parental consent for minors whose physicians have determined that the patients seeking abortion have medical decision-making capacity, the codification of safety-net coverage for abortion in Massachusetts to promote equitable access to abortion services, an update of abortion-related medical terminology in our legal code, and the allowance of a medically-appropriate abortion after 24 weeks when the life and health of the pregnant person is in jeopardy and in cases of fatal fetal anomalies.

­­“Massachusetts Medical Society policy states that access to reproductive health care should be available,” said Massachusetts Medical Society president Maryanne C. Bombaugh, MD, MSc, MBA, FACOG. “By supporting the amendment of our state laws, we are protecting a person’s right to make deeply personal and complex decisions with the support and trusted guidance of their physician, without inequity and absent undue barriers or stigma.”

Process: How did MMS come to support the ROE Act?

At the May 2019 annual meeting, the Medical Society considered a multi-part resolution related to reproductive health care, including provisions that would support policies permitting abortions after 24-weeks of pregnancy in instances of lethal fetal anomalies, and policy to remove other undue barriers to abortion, among others. After careful and thorough discussion some of those items were adopted and other matters were referred for further input from a cross-section of physician-led Medical Society leaders and committees. 

The Massachusetts Medical Society provided written and oral testimony at a hearing before the state legislative Joint Committee on the Judiciary on Monday June 17, 2019 in support of select provisions of the ROE Act, based upon MMS policy at that time. This testimony affirmed the Medical Society’s support of the elimination of required parental consent for minors who seek an abortion and who demonstrate the requisite medical decision-making capacity, the codification of safety-net coverage for abortion in Massachusetts to promote equitable access to abortion services, and an update of abortion-related medical terminology in our legal code.  To read our entire June 2019 written testimony, click here.

The deliberative process for additional items related to reproductive health care involved review and input from several MMS committees, including the Committee on Quality Medical Practice, the Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Welfare, and the Committee on Legislation. This process concluded in August with a vote of the Board of Trustees adopting the recommendation of these three committees, with amended language directing the Medical Society to support policies to improve appropriate access to abortion and to allow abortions after 24-weeks of pregnancy in the case of lethal fetal anomalies.  Upon adoption of these remaining items, the Medical Society is in full support of the ROE Act (H.3320/S.1209) in its entirety.

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