PILP Hears from Speakers on Reproductive Rights and Justice

On Thursday, November 7th, the Public Interest Leadership Committee heard from two distinguished speakers on the topic of reproductive justice. First, Jamie Sabino, attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Judicial Consent for Minors Lawyer Referral Panel spoke about women’s reproductive health in Massachusetts with a focus on the current landscape nationwide and in Massachusetts.   

She shared that currently in Massachusetts, under the judicial bypass process, minors must petition the court to obtain an abortion if a parent or guardian is not present to grant permission.  A concern with the requirement of the judicial bypass process is that physicians are mandated reporters, but judges are not.  Such a requirement creates an additional hurdle for minors, including a fear of loss of confidentiality.  The judicial bypass law disproportionately impacts young people of color and young people with low incomes.

Attorney Sabino also discussed the history of reproductive health laws and the changing landscape that has resulted from changes in the makeup of the United States Supreme Court.   

Since 1981, Jamie has chaired or co-chaired the Judicial Consent For Minor Lawyer Referral Panel, a group of attorneys who represent minors seeking judicial authorization for abortion.  Working with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Jamie has also trained lawyers in a number of states facing implementation of a parental involvement/judicial bypass statute, testified in many state legislatures on the burdens brought by such laws and served as an expert witness on the implementation of such laws in court challenges.

Mehreen Butt, Associate Director of Policy and Government Affairs at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, discussed her current focus on lobbying for the passage of The Roe Act, S. 1209, H. 3320.  Amongst several other components, the bill would eliminate the judicial bypass process, expand access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of fatal fetal anomalies, and abolish medically unnecessary abortion restrictions.  In June 2019, the bill went to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Ms. Butt has over 15 years of experience working in the social justice and public policy fields and on local, state, and federal campaigns.  She has worked at Rosie’s Place, Tufts Health Plan and Health Care for All.  In each of these positions, Ms. Butt was responsible for overseeing the organization’s policy and legislative agenda.

For more information regarding Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts priorities visit https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/planned-parenthood-advocacy-fund-massachusetts-inc/issues

Meeting Recap provided by PILP Members Andrea Carrillo (Greater Boston Legal Services) and Sharona Sternberg (Sunstein Kann)