It’s hard to know what to say at times like this. We like to think that, over time, things are getting better. That we’re making progress, that each new generation will have more rights and will live in a more equitable world than the one before them. But that’s just not true. Not right now, anyways.
The repeal of Roe v. Wade, a 50 year old legal precedent, is shocking and violent. This decision, made by a Supreme Court in which 5 of the 9 justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, will result in lives lost and the further oppression of women, trans folks, non-binary folks, BIPOC communities, low-income communities, and young people.
Alongside my grief, fear, and anger, I’ve been thinking about how this happened, especially given the fact that the vast majority of Americans support the right to abortion. Hell, while we’re at it, the vast majority of Americans support gun control. But when our systems are designed to reflect the desires and values of a wealthy, white supremacist, patriarchal class, those in power aren’t held accountable to what the rest of us want. This is what’s at stake when we talk about our failing democracy.
As I’m writing this today, I don’t have any sweeping answers. I’m scared and I’m tired. All I know is that I’m grateful for you, and for being in a progressive people-powered movement with you.
State House Scoop
Abortion access in Massachusetts\ First and foremost, abortion is still legal in Massachusetts. If you or someone you know is seeking an abortion, they can find a list of providers here. This right was codified into law through the Roe Act which passed last session–just in the nick of time. Also in the nick of time, Governor Baker signed an executive action Friday immediately after the Supreme Court decision to protect MA healthcare providers from charges from other states for providing reproductive care, and ban our state agencies from cooperating with other state’s investigations into abortions.
Meanwhile, funding for abortion services in the 2023 budget is currently being negotiated behind closed doors; the House had proposed $500,000 for abortion access, and the Senate proposed $2 million. But solutions to a crisis on this scale have to go beyond an earmark in the budget; check out the policy agenda laid out by the Massachusetts Beyond Roe Coalition, of which Act on Mass is proud to be a part.
House passes transportation bill, excludes low-income fare programThe House unanimously passed a $11 billion bond bill Thursday to address the MBTA’s recent safety and staffing issues and set aside some early funding for an east-west rail. But like any House bill, it’s not all good news: instead of making it easier and more affordable to use public transportation, especially amid record-high gas prices, legislators opted to remove a popular low-income fare program from the final version of the bill.
Criminal record sealing bill deadline approachesUnder current law, an individual’s criminal record can be sealed after a wait period, but the process to request a seal once that period is over includes lengthy wait times and labyrinthine red tape. A bill that would automatically seal criminal records, making it easier for millions of MA residents to access jobs, schooling, and housing from which they would otherwise be denied, currently sits in committee with a 6/30 decision deadline. State House leadership could easily have this advance out of committee and fast-track it to a floor vote if they wanted to.
Donate to your local abortion fund While abortion remains legal in Massachusetts, there are still several other barriers to access including financial. Abortion funds help people pay for their abortion and other logistical expenses like travel, lodging, and child care.
For a full list of abortion funds across the US, visit abortionfunds.org/funds.
Tell budget negotiators to include at least $2 million for abortion services
The good news is that both the House and Senate have earmarked funds for reproductive health care, including grants to directly support abortion funds in Massachusetts. However, the Senate has set aside four times as much money: $2 million. We must ensure that the conference committee maintains the Senate’s funding levels to ensure we are maximizing the support we can provide for abortion care in Massachusetts.
An actual fun fact to kick off your weekend Because we could all use some good news right now: Senate President Spilka announced this week that Senate staffers are to receive a 15% pay raise and new pay structure! This excellent news comes in the wake of a third-party report which concluded that the MA Senate had poor and unequal pay practices, and of course, in the midst of the MA Senate staff's ongoing bid to unionize. Read the MA State House Employee Union’s statement here.
Remember to take care of yourself, whether that means taking time to be alone, spending time with others, joining your community in protest, or staying busy to take your mind off things until you're ready. But when you are ready to fight to hold our government accountable and demand the rights we deserve, we'll be here.
Erin Leahy Executive Director, Act on Mass