Massachusetts moved to pre-emptively protect the right to abortion in the state by passing a bill to repeal a series of decades-old laws dating back almost 200 years that criminalized abortion and prevented doctors from giving contraception to women if they weren’t married.
State lawmakers voted to pass the NASTY Women Act (Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women) last week and Gov. Charlie Baker, a pro-choice Republican, confirmed Monday that he would sign it into law.
“We will sign that,” Baker said. “There are many folks in the women’s health community that were particularly concerned about this. The lieutenant governor and I and other folks on our team discussed it, and we do plan to sign it.”
“I think people are beginning to realize these are strange times we live in,” State Senate President Harriette Chandler told TIME, explaining the urgency around passing such a bill. “Nothing is impossible, and we’ve got to have a ‘plan B.’ If these laws are enforced, what do we do?” Chandler, a Democrat, said. “We’re not willing to sit back and say, ‘Well, it’s not going to happen here.’ The word for that is denial.”
Much of the country already possesses restrictive abortion laws at the state level. About one-third of states already have laws would or could outlaw abortion if Roe were to get overturned. Yet an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday found that 71 percent of American voters ― more than half of whom are Republican ― don’t want to see the law overturned.