Appendix II: The Abortion Code in the Massachusetts General Laws

(contained within Chapter 112, on “Registration of Certain Professions and Occupations”)

 

Section 12K: Definitions applicable to Secs. 12L to 12U

Section 12K. As used in section twelve L to section twelve U, inclusive, the following words shall have the following meanings:

Abortion, the knowing destruction of the life of an unborn child or the intentional expulsion or removal of an unborn child from the womb other than for the principal purpose of producing a live birth or removing a dead fetus.

Hospital, a hospital as defined in section fifty-two of chapter one hundred and eleven of the General Laws, and duly licensed under the provisions of section fifty-one of chapter one hundred and eleven of the General Laws.

Physician, an individual lawfully authorized to practice medicine within the commonwealth.

Pregnancy, the condition of a mother carrying an unborn child.

Unborn child, the individual human life in existence and developing from implantation of the embryo in the uterus until birth.

Section 12L: Abortion; pregnancy existing for less than 24 weeks

Section 12L. If a pregnancy has existed for less than twenty-four weeks no abortion may be performed except by a physician and only if, in the best medical judgment of a physician, the abortion is necessary under all attendant circumstances.

Section 12M: Abortion; pregnancy existing for 24 weeks or more

 

Section 12M. If a pregnancy has existed for twenty-four weeks or more, no abortion may be performed except by a physician and only if it is necessary to save the life of the mother, or if a continuation of her pregnancy will impose on her a substantial risk of grave impairment of her physical or mental health.

Section 12N: Violation of Sec. 12L or 12N; punishment

Section 12N. Any person who violates the provisions of sections twelve L or twelve M shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five years. Conduct which violates the provisions of this act, which also violates any other criminal laws of the commonwealth, may be punished either under the provisions of sections 12K to 12U, inclusive, or under such other applicable criminal laws.

Section 12O: Abortion performed pursuant to Sec. 12M; protection of unborn child

 

Section 12O. If an abortion is performed pursuant to section twelve M, no abortion procedure which is designed to destroy the life of the unborn child or injure the unborn child in its mother's womb may be used unless, in the physician's best medical judgment, all other available procedures would create a greater risk of death or serious bodily harm to the mother either at the time of the abortion, or subsequently as the result of a future pregnancy, than the one being used.

Section 12P: Abortion performed pursuant to Sec. 12M; preservation of life and health of child

 

Section 12P. If an abortion is performed pursuant to section twelve M, the physician performing the abortion shall take all reasonable steps, both during and subsequent to the abortion, in keeping with good medical practice, consistent with the procedure being used, to preserve the life and health of the aborted child. Such steps shall include the presence of life-supporting equipment, as defined by the department of public health, in the room where the abortion is to be performed.

Section 12Q: Restrictions on abortions performed under Sec. 12L or 12M; emergency excepted

 

Section 12Q. Except in an emergency requiring immediate action, no abortion may be performed under sections twelve L or twelve M unless the written informed consent of the proper person or persons has been delivered to the physician performing the abortion as set forth in section twelve S; and if the abortion is during or after the thirteenth week of pregnancy, it is performed in a hospital duly authorized to provide facilities for general surgery.

 

Except in an emergency requiring immediate action, no abortion may be performed under section twelve M unless performed in a hospital duly authorized to provide facilities for obstetrical services.

 

 

Section 12R: Written statement of reasons for abortion as required by Sec. 12M; tests on pregnant patients prior to abortions; report to commissioner, contents; filing; statistical tables, annual report to general court; additional reports

Section 12R. If the physician performing the abortion is not the physician who made the medical judgment required by section twelve M, before performing the abortion he shall obtain from the physician making such judgment a written statement setting forth the exception contained in section twelve M that in his best medical judgment permits the abortion and the specified reasons why the abortion qualifies under that exception. Prior to the performance of an abortion, the physician shall make a positive determination of pregnancy, test for blood type and Rh type, test for Rho(D) sensitization on each patient found to be Rho(D) negative by use of an antiglobulin (Coombs) test performed by a blood bank operated by a licensed hospital, or by a laboratory, and offer Rho(D) immune globulin (Human) to each Rho(D) negative patient with a negative sensitization test at the time of any abortion. The physician performing the abortion shall retain this written statement as an attachment to the file copy of his report required by this section. Within thirty days after the performance of an abortion, the physician performing such abortion shall file with the commissioner of public health on a form prescribed by him the following information to the best of his knowledge: the date and place of the abortion; if he was the physician making the medical judgment required by section twelve M, the exception contained in said section that in his best medical judgment permitted the abortion and the specific reasons why the abortion qualified under that exception; if he is not the physician who made such medical judgment, the name and address of the physician from whom he received the written statement required by this section and the exception contained in said section twelve M that permitted the abortion and a verbatim recitation of the specific reasons why the abortion qualified under either exception as set forth in the written statement he received from such physician; the age of the mother; the method used to perform the abortion; whether the mother survived the abortion; the details of any morbidity observed in the mother; the gestational age of the child; the weight and crown-rump length of the child if determinable; whether the unborn child was alive when removed or expelled from the mother and if so, the steps taken to preserve its life; and the length of time the child lived after removal or expulsion from the mother. The physician performing the abortion shall retain in his files for seven years after the abortion a copy of the report to which he should attach or otherwise add the name of the mother. The original of the report filed with the commissioner shall not contain the name of the mother and shall be maintained by the commissioner as a public record. The commissioner shall prepare from these reports such statistical tables with respect to maternal health, abortion procedures, the unborn child and viability as he deems useful and shall make an annual report thereof to the general court. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the department of public health to require reports pursuant to sections twenty-four A and twenty-five A of chapter one hundred and eleven.

Section 12S: Consent to abortion; form; persons less than eighteen years of age

 

Section 12S. No physician may perform an abortion upon a pregnant woman without first obtaining her written informed consent. The commissioner of public health shall prescribe a form for physicians to use in obtaining such consent. This form shall be written in a manner designed to permit a person unfamiliar with medical terminology to understand its purpose and content, and shall include the following information: a description of the stage of development of the unborn child; the type of procedure which the physician intends to use to perform the abortion; and the possible complications associated with the use of the procedure and with the performance of the abortion itself; the availability of alternatives to abortion; and a statement that, under the law of the commonwealth, a person's refusal to undergo an abortion does not constitute grounds for the denial of public assistance. A pregnant woman seeking an abortion shall sign the consent form described above at least twenty-four hours in advance of the time for which the abortion is scheduled, except in an emergency requiring immediate action. She shall then return it to the physician performing the abortion who shall maintain it in his files and destroy it seven years after the date upon which the abortion is performed.

The said consent form and any other forms, transcript of evidence, or written findings and conclusions of a court, shall be confidential and may not be released to any person except by the pregnant woman's written informed consent or by a proper judicial order, other than to the pregnant woman herself, to whom such documents relate, the operating physician, or any person whose consent is required pursuant to this section, or under the law. If a pregnant woman is less than eighteen years of age and has not married, a physician shall not perform an abortion upon her unless he first obtains both the consent of the pregnant woman and that of her parents, except as hereinafter provided. In deciding whether to grant such consent, a pregnant woman's parents shall consider only their child's best interests. If one of the pregnant woman's parents has died or is unavailable to the physician within a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner, consent of the remaining parent shall be sufficient. If both parents have died or are otherwise unavailable to the physician within a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner, consent of the pregnant woman's guardian or guardians shall be sufficient. If the pregnant woman's parents are divorced, consent of the parent having custody shall be sufficient. If a pregnant woman less than eighteen years of age has not married and if one or both of her parents or guardians refuse to consent to the performance of an abortion, or if she elects not to seek the consent of one or both of her parents or guardians, a judge of the superior court department of the trial court shall, upon petition, or motion, and after an appropriate hearing, authorize a physician to perform the abortion if said judge determines that the pregnant woman is mature and capable of giving informed consent to the proposed abortion or, if said judge determines that she is not mature, that the performance of an abortion upon her would be in her best interests. A pregnant woman less than eighteen years of age may participate in proceedings in the superior court department of the trial court on her own behalf, and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for her. The court shall, however, advise her that she has a right to court appointed counsel, and shall, upon her request, provide her with such counsel. Proceedings in the superior court department of the trial court under this section shall be confidential and shall be given such precedence over other pending matters that the court may reach a decision promptly and without delay so as to serve the best interests of the pregnant woman. A judge of the superior court department of the trial court who conducts proceedings under this section shall make in writing specific factual findings and legal conclusions supporting his decision and shall order a record of the evidence to be maintained including his own findings and conclusions.

Nothing in this section is intended to abolish or limit any common law rights of persons other than those whose rights it governs for the purpose of any civil action or any action for injunctive relief under section twelve U.

Section 12T: Violations of Secs. 12O to 12R; punishment

Section 12T. Any person who commits an act in violation of sections twelve O or twelve P shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than two thousand dollars, or by imprisonment of not less than three months nor more than five years, or by both said fine and imprisonment. Conduct which violates sections twelve O or twelve P which also violates any other criminal laws of the commonwealth, may be punished either under this section or under such other applicable criminal laws. Any person who willfully violates the provisions of section twelve Q or twelve R shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two thousand dollars.

Section 12U: Enjoining performance of abortion

Section 12U. The attorney general or any person whose consent is required either pursuant to section twelve S or under common law, may petition the superior court for an order enjoining the performance of any abortion that may be performed contrary to the provisions of sections twelve L to twelve T, inclusive.