Massachusetts General Laws

Home MGL Outline Search the MGL Search the Internet Find a Lawyer Articles Links

Massachusetts Laws About Abortion

   *NOTICE: We cannot guarantee the accuracy of information contained here or in sites and resources that we provide links to.  This site is not affiliated with the state of Massachusetts, and does not publish or maintain the official Massachusetts General Laws (MGL), General Laws of Massachusetts, or any other Massachusetts laws.  This site does not give legal advice, and no information provided on this site, or on any site, should be relied on without first consulting an attorney.  If you are in need of legal advice or counsel, consult a licensed Massachusetts lawyer.

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, 571 F.3d 167 (July 8, 2009). The Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone, MGL c.266, s.120E1/2, "represents a permissible response by the Massachusetts legislature to what it reasonably perceived as a significant threat to public safety. It is content-neutral, narrowly tailored, and leaves open ample alternative channels of communication. It is, therefore, a valid time-place-manner regulation, and constitutional on its face."

Opinion of the Justices to the Senate, 430 Mass. 1205 (2000) SJC indicated that a proposed 25-foot buffer zone would be constitutional. That opinion stated that floating buffer zones, as Massachusetts law previously provided, are "problematic" and make compliance difficult. With a clearly defined boundary, "demonstrators may still engage in all forms of protest as they previously have done, but are simply constrained to do so outside the buffer zone."

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."

Yahoo: Abortion. Categories include Abortion Provider Directories, Clinic Violence, Herbal Birth Control and Abortion, Intact Dilation and Extraction, Organizations, Pro-Choice and Pro-Life.

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. 1 (Family Law and Practice, 3rd ed.) West Group, 2002 with supplement, Chapter 25; 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.