The Massachusetts Nurses Association Board of Directors – nurses and healthcare professionals elected by their MNA colleagues – have released the following statement in response to the leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court majority decision to reverse longstanding abortion rights precedents, including Roe v. Wade.
“The ability to exercise bodily autonomy is a fundamental human right. The draft majority Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade would radically disrupt healthcare in the United States and disproportionately place low-income, under-resourced and traditionally marginalized people at risk. The ruling would add additional unfair obstacles to women and all child-bearing people who face heightened barriers to exercising their reproductive rights and autonomy. There has been increasing recognition and validation of healthcare inequality, particularly along racial and economic lines. A reversal of Roe v. Wade would codify that inequality, further harming communities whose health are already endangered by these disparities. This decision would mean significant backward movement in our nation’s efforts to address healthcare inequality and would open the door to additional erosion of individual choice.”
“Legal experts have predicted this decision, if enacted, could trigger dormant abortion bans in many states and lead to abortion restrictions being implemented across the country. The Roe reversal as drafted could result in the targeting of caregivers, physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners who provide abortion services. A Texas law allows members of the public to pursue civil lawsuits against providers, and an Alabama law would subject physicians to criminal prosecution, including a life sentence in prison. The criminalization of providing essential healthcare services is a dark vision of our future that cannot stand. We must also resist returning to a time when child-bearing people were forced to take health risks to exercise their right to bodily autonomy. If implemented as drafted, the decision could additionally threaten federal rights to same-sex marriage and access to contraceptives.
“As union members, nurses, and healthcare professionals, we believe everyone should have equal access to healthcare. Where you live and how much money you have should not determine if you can receive safe, legal abortion services. No one’s race or any other aspect of their identity should be used to restrict their health choices. We deliver care based on best practices. As nurses in Massachusetts, we are responsible for the “health maintenance, teaching, counseling, collaborative planning, and restoration of optimal functioning and comfort” of our patients. Healthcare decisions should be between patients and their providers, without the interference of government or political ideology.
“The anticipated Roe reversal and other laws seeking to curtain individual rights and freedom will perpetuate our country’s cycle of racism, sexism, and inequality. This is something we must all stand up against. As our union has taught us time and time again, an injustice to one is an injustice to all. MNA nurses and healthcare professionals supported passage of the Commonwealth’s Roe Act and have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to ensuring equitable access to all healthcare services, including the termination of a pregnancy. We are fully dedicated not just to our individual patients but to advancing the cause of universal healthcare that meets the needs of everyone equally. The progress that has been made in the United States to broaden and equalize healthcare access should not be halted and reversed. We must unite in opposition to the erosion of human rights and fight for healthcare justice for all.”