Since President Donald Trump announced on July 9 that the ultra-conservative federal justice Brett Cavanaugh is his Supreme Court pick, the future of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that made abortion a protected right nationwide in 1973, has seemed so uncertain. Weeks after Justice Anthony Kennedy revealed that he plans to retire this summer, thus setting the stage for a conservative-dominated legal system, proponents of women's rights are fighting back to ensure that abortion is kept legal and accessible to women around the country. On Monday, July 23, Massachusetts' NASTY Women Act repealed an anti-abortion law from the 19th century, and it's the good news that "nasty women" everywhere need right now.
The Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act, AKA the aptly named NASTY Women Act, effectively rid the state of a 173-year-old law that made it illegal for doctors to give contraception to unmarried women and forbid women from "procuring a miscarriage." How times have changed.
While abortion is legal in the state of Massachusetts as well as everywhere else in the United States after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973, Massachusetts lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to strike down the archaic law so that if Roe v. Wade is weakened or even repealed by a conservative-majority Supreme Court in the future, abortion won't immediately become illegal in the state of Massachusetts. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker confirmed on Monday that he would be signing it into law, according to MassLive, hopefully ensuring some protective legislation for women in the state should abortion rights be called into question nationwide.
“I think people are beginning to realize these are strange times we live in. Nothing is impossible, and we’ve got to have a ‘plan B.’ If these laws are enforced, what do we do?” Massachusetts State Senate President Harriette Chandler told Time. “We’re not willing to sit back and say, ‘Well, it’s not going to happen here.’ The word for that is denial.”
While a few right-wing figures have criticized the need for the bill as Roe v. Wade still stands at the moment, a handful of other states are starting to make preparations as well.
So far, New York and New Mexico are working on writing Roe v. Wade rights into their state legislature, and it's possible more will follow after Massachusetts' decision to clean up their laws. On the flip side, there's a frightening number of states (19 at least) that already have anti-abortion laws ready to go should Roe v. Wade be repealed. According to The Guardian, states like Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have already implemented “trigger laws” that would immediately criminalize abortion in the state should Roe by undone. It's a disheartening time for pro-abortion rights proponents, aka 71 percent of Americans, according to a brand new poll that was also released on Monday.
That poll, which was conducted by NBC News and theWall Street Journal, found that the general consensus among Americans — including 52 percent of Republicans — is that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. More than two-thirds of Americans believe the landmark legislation granting a woman's right to an abortion should be kept in place, according to the poll, which is at odds with what President Trump has called a "50-50 question."
Considering that Justice Kavanaugh has previously voted against women's access to birth control in 2015, it's unsurprising that Gallup found that Americans are seriously divided about Trump's nominee. While the future of Roe v. Wade is very uncertain, Massachusetts' NASTY Women Act proves that a states are already making a stand to protect abortion rights within their borders.