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Massachusetts law about abortion

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on abortion law.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

Primary Laws

Additional Laws

Massachusetts regulations

110 CMR 11.07  Consent to an abortion by a child in the care or custody of the Department of Children and Families

130 CMR 484  Abortions under MassHealth

Federal laws

18 USC § 248 Freedom of access to clinic entrances

18 USC § 1531 Partial-birth abortion ban act of 2003

42 USC § 300a-6 Prohibition against funding programs using abortion as family planning method

42 USC § 300a-7 Sterilization or abortion

Federal regulations

45 CFR Part 88 Protecting statutory conscience rights in health care, effective July 22, 2019
Allows health workers to refuse to perform or assist medical procedures,  like abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide, if it violates their “conscience” or religion. It applies to health care institutions receiving federal funding.

Court rules

Superior Court Standing Order 5-81: Uniform procedures regarding petitions for abortion authorization under G.L. c.112, § 12


Petition under G.L. c. 112, § 12S (Mary Moe petition)
Used to request a court order authorizing a doctor to perform an abortion on a minor without parental consent

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 U.S. 124 (2007)
The Supreme Court upheld a federal law prohibiting so-called "partial birth" abortion.

June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, __ U.S. __ , 140 S.Ct. 2013 (2020)
A Louisiana law requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, was ruled unconstitutional. 

McCullen v. Coakley , 573 U.S. 464 (2014)
The earlier Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone, MGL c.266, s.120E1/2 , held unconstitutional. "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."

NIFLA v. Becerra, 585 US __ (June 26, 2018) 138 S. Ct. 2361
Under the First Amendment, religiously oriented "crisis pregnancy centers" which do not provide abortions, don't have to tell women about public programs providing access to free or low-cost abortion. It is also "likely" a violation of the First Amendment to require clinics that don't have a medical license to disclose that fact. 

Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts v. Attorney General , 424 Mass. 586 (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 (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 (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 sources

Abortion: judicial history and legislative response, Congressional Research Service, 2018, Mass. 2-1-1 service.
"HelpSteps connects individuals to local health and human resources... The assessment and referral tools are available at no cost to anyone with access to the internet or a smart phone." Click on Sexual Health & Testing for information about abortion services in Massachusetts.

Print sources

American jurisprudence 2d , West Group, 2005 with supplement, vol. 1, "Abortion and Birth Control."

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).

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.

Massachusetts practice, vol. 17B (Prima facie case, 5th ed.), West Group, 2005, section 53.17.

National survey of state laws, Gale Group, 2015, chapter 22.

"The partial-birth abortion ban act of 2003," by Alex Gordon, 41 Harvard journal on legislation 501 (2004). 

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). 

Roe v. Wade : the abortion rights controversy in American history, N.E.H. Hull and Peter Charles Hoffer, University Press of Kansas, 2010.

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.



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Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: August 20, 2020