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Massachusetts Abortion Laws

Abortion is legal in Massachusetts until 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, abortion is legal only if a physician determines that it is necessary:

  • To preserve the patient's life
  • To preserve the patient's physical or mental health
  • Due to a lethal fetal anomaly or diagnosis
  • Due to a finding of a grave fetal diagnosis that indicates the fetus is incompatible with life outside the uterus without extraordinary medical interventions

Massachusetts Abortion Law After Dobbs

As the U.S. Supreme Court majority moved towards overturning Roe v. Wade through its 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, some states passed new abortion bans as trigger laws designed to outlaw most abortions immediately after the fall of Roe. In Massachusetts, the state legislature went in the opposite direction.

The Roe Act and State Law Protections

In 2020, the state passed the Roe Act, overriding Governor Charlie Baker's veto. The Roe Act provided an independent state law basis for a right to abortion. It also permitted women in Massachusetts at age 16 to make their own decisions about abortion without parental consent. This latter provision was the cause of Baker's veto. As a result, abortion remained legal under Massachusetts law after the Court ended the constitutional right to abortion in Dobbs.

Despite vetoing the Roe Act in 2020, Governor Baker signed an executive order after the Dobbs decision expressing support for reproductive rights. The order sought to provide protections for both those seeking abortion care from out of state and for abortion providers.

By July 2022, the Massachusetts legislature placed such protections into state law. The state will not assist other states who seek to investigate or prosecute their residents for seeking abortion services in Massachusetts.

Support for People With Abortion Questions

Since that time, the state has supported the development of a legal hotline to assist patients with questions about abortion rights and abortion access. The government website also provides links for abortion clinics and providers and financial assistance for abortion care.

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office also created a Reproductive Justice Unit. Its purpose is to promote reproductive health care services in the state and defend its legal protections for such care.

Massachusetts Abortion Laws At a Glance

The table below summarizes the abortion laws in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This abortion rights FAQ can help answer your other questions as well.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

Massachusetts General Laws Annotated (MGLA), Chapter 94C, Controlled Substances:

MGLA, Chapter 112, Regulation of Certain Professions and Occupations:

  • 112 Section 12I - Abortion or sterilization procedures; refusal of hospital or health care facility staff members to participate

  • 112 Section 12J - Experimentation on human fetuses prohibited

  • 112 Section 12L - Personal decision regarding pregnancy

  • 112 Section 12M - Abortion; pregnancy existing less than 24 weeks

  • 112 Section 12N - Abortion; pregnancy existing 24 weeks or more

  • 112 Section 12O - Abortion performed pursuant to Section 12N; protection of unborn child

  • 112 Section 12P - Abortion performed pursuant to Section 12M or 12N; written informed consent; facilities

  • 112 Section 12R - Written informed consent; confidentiality; patient under 16 years old

MGLA, Chapter 272, Crimes Against Chastity, Morality, Decency, and Good Order:

  • 272 Section 21A - Furnishing drugs, articles, or information for the prevention of pregnancy or conception

  • 272 Section 21B - Privately controlled hospital or health facility; abortion or sterilization procedures; contraceptive devices and family planning services


When Is Abortion Legal?

Under 24 weeks, a physician, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner, or nurse midwife may perform an abortion with written informed consent.

After 24 weeks, only a physician with written informed consent can perform an abortion. After 24 weeks, a physician must find the abortion is one of the following:

  • Necessary to preserve the patient's life
  • Necessary to preserve the physical or mental health of the patient
  • Warranted due to lethal fetal anomaly or diagnosis
  • Warranted due to a grave fetal diagnosis that indicates the fetus is incompatible with life outside the uterus without extraordinary medical interventions


Consent Requirements

Adult: Written informed consent is required from the adult patient before the procedure, except in a medical emergency.

Minor: For a minor 16 years or older, written informed consent is required from the patient, except in a medical emergency. For a minor under 16 years old and unmarried, there must be consent of the patient and one parent or guardian, except in a medical emergency or via court bypass (if the court is convinced of the minor patient's maturity to give consent or that the procedure is in minor patient's best interest).


Availability of Medication Abortion?


Yes. Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey issued Executive Order 609 in 2023 to prioritize reproductive health care services, including medication abortion.


Residency Requirements for Patients?



Physician Licensing Requirements

Physicians, physician's assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives may provide abortion services consistent and within the scope of their practice and license. At the 24th week, an abortion must be performed by a physician in a licensed hospital.


Note: State laws are constantly changing — contact a Massachusetts family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

How Massachusetts Compares to Other States

In Massachusetts, abortion laws are less restrictive than those in many other states as of 2024. In 14 other states, almost all abortions are illegal. Some jurisdictions only permit abortion in the first six weeks of pregnancy. Others may set a limit near 15 weeks.

Some 26 states, like Massachusetts and neighboring Connecticut, place restrictions (if any) once the fetus reaches viability (around 22-24 weeks). States can also place consent requirements and other obstacles to those seeking abortion. These vary among the states.

A Note About Medication Abortion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that medication abortions accounted for 53% of abortions obtained by women in the U.S. in 2021.

A challenge to medication abortion appeared in federal court in Texas in November 2022. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the drug mifepristone in 2000. The drug is part of a two-drug regimen of abortion pills.

Challengers oppose the use of the drug and the FDA's decision in 2016 and 2021 to amend certain regulations. This included rules related to prescription and its distribution through the mail. A lower court injunction issued in the case is on hold. A Supreme Court decision is likely in 2024.

Research the Law:

Related Resources for Abortion Laws:

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