The NASTY Women Act: Massachusetts Repeals a 173-Year-Old Anti-Abortion Law in Case of a Roe v. Wade Reversal

July 24, 2018, 9:00 AM UTC

Massachusetts wants to ensure that abortion continues to be officially legal in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court after President Trump names a new justice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

And so, while the procedure is already legal under state and federal law, Massachusetts moved to abolish a 173-year-old law that banned “procuring a miscarriage.”

The bill, called the Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women, or NASTY Women Act, passed in a landslide in the state legislature, gaining unanimous approval from the Senate in January, and passing by 138-9 in the House. It is now expected to be signed by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Massachusetts State Senate President Harriette Chandler explained to Time that the retirement of Justice Kennedy spurred the drive to abolish the law, as “these are strange times we live in.”

“Nothing is impossible, and we’ve got to have a ‘plan B,’” she said, in reference to the possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned or weakened with a new Justice on the Supreme Court bench. “If these laws are enforced, what do we do?”

Baker, who is a Republican, told reporters on Monday that he plans to sign the bill. “There are many folks in the women’s health community that were particularly concerned about this,” he explained. “The lieutenant governor and I and other folks on our team discussed it, and we do plan to sign it.”

Lawmakers in New Mexico and New York are similarly considering measures to ensure the legality of abortion should laws at the national level change.


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