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Massachusetts Law About Abortion

Massachusetts Laws

Primary Laws:

Additional Laws:

Massachusetts Regulations

Federal Laws

Court Rules

Superior Court Standing Order 5-81: Uniform Procedures Regarding Petitions for Abortion Authorization Under GL c.112, s.12

Selected Case Law

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) The court held that a woman's constitutional right to privacy encompassed her decision to terminate a pregnancy. The right was not unrestricted as states have an interest in regulating abortions during the later stages of pregnancy.

Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 US 124 (April 18, 2007). In a sharply divided 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a federal law prohibiting so-called "partial birth" abortion.

McCullen v. Coakley, 573 U.S.__ (June 26, 2014). New!The Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone, MGL c.266, s.120E1/2, held unconstutional. "The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth's asserted interests... Given the vital First Amendment interests at stake, it is not enough for Massachusetts simply to say that other approaches have not worked."

Moe v. Sec. of Admin. and Finance, 382 Mass. 629 (1981). "A statutory restriction on the funding of abortions under the Massachusetts Medical Assistance Program ... impermissibly burdened a woman's right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy by abortion in violation of the right to due process of law as guaranteed by the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights."

Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts v. Attorney General, 424 Mass. 586, 677 N.E.2d 101 (1997). Court held that statutory requirement that pregnant unmarried minor obtain consent of both parents before obtaining abortion violated due process clause.

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 112 S.Ct. 2791, 120 L.Ed.2d 674 (1992) Pennsylvania abortion statute held valid for 24 hour informed consent, parental consent for minors, and record keeping requirements, but not for spousal notice under due process clause of Federal Constitution's 14th Amendment.

Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914, 120 S.Ct. 2597, 147 L.Ed.2d 743 (2000). "Nebraska statute that criminalized performance of any 'partial birth abortion' that was not necessary to save life of mother held to violate Federal Constitution."

Web Resources

Supreme Court's Evolving Rulings on Abortion, NPR. "In more than three decades since its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue another two-dozen times. The following timeline details some of the key decisions that have shaped the Court's still-evolving thinking on abortion."

Print Resources

American Jurisprudence 2d, West Group, 1994 with supplement, vol. 1, "Abortion and Birth Control."

Bioethical and Evolutionary Approaches to Medicine and the Law, American Bar Association, 2007.

Massachusetts Practice, vol. 2 (Family Law and Practice, 4th ed.) Thomson Reuters, 2013, Chapter 27; vol. 17B (Prima Facie Case, 5th ed.), West Group, 2005, section 53.17.

May It Please the Court: Arguments on Abortion: live recording and transcripts of Supreme Court oral arguments on reproductive rights, Stephanie Guitton and Peter Irons, editors, New Press, 1995 (Book and audiocassettes).

National Survey of State Laws, 6th ed., Gale Group, 2008, chapter 22.

"The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003," by Alex Gordon, 41 Harvard Journal on Legislation 501 (2004). Also available online to library card holders through Hein Online.

Representing the Child Client, by Michael J. Dale, et al., Lexis, loose-leaf, sec. 3.02[2][c].

"The Right to Choose, Neutrality, and Abortion Consent in Massachusetts," by Daniel Avila, 38 Suffolk University Law Review 511 (2004). Also available online to library card holders through Hein Online.

Roe v. Wade: United States Supreme Court, Bo Schambelan, editor, Running Press, 1992.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, West Group, 2004, vol.1, pp.10-21.