Massachusetts Woman’s Right to Know Act (H 1541)
This law was last updated on Oct 25, 2017
H 1541 would enact the Woman’s Right to Know Act, also called Laura’s Law. The bill would require written informed consent of the pregnant woman before a physician could perform an abortion, unless in the case of a medical emergency where the woman’s life or major bodily harm was at risk.
At least 24 hours before an abortion procedure is to take place, the physician must give the pregnant woman a printed pamphlet, the internet address to a state-sponsored website, or toll free number for an audio recording, all of which are created and maintained by the commissioner of public health, and which communicate the following general information:
- a written notice of the patients’ rights;
- a comprehensive list of the names, addresses, and contact information of public and private agencies and services available to provide medical, financial and other assistance to a woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while her child is dependent, with prenatal, childbirth, neonatal, childrearing, and adoption services;
- a description of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two week gestational increments from fertilization to full term, including color photographs or if a representative photograph is not available, realistic drawings of the developing unborn child at two week increments, and including written information about brain and heart function and the presence of external members and internal organs at each stage of development;
- a description of the various methods of abortion, and the risks or medical complications commonly associated with each method; a description of the risks or medical complications of pregnancy and delivery; a description of the support obligations of the father of a child born alive; and
- statements that, under the law of the commonwealth, a pregnant woman has the right upon her request to view a live ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of her unborn child before an abortion, that a person’s refusal to undergo abortion does not constitute grounds for the denial of public assistance, that the law permits adoptive parents to pay the cost of prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care, that the father of the unborn child is liable to assist in the support of the child, even in instances where he has offered to pay for the abortion, that it is unlawful for any individual to coerce a woman to undergo an abortion, and that any physician who performs an abortion upon a woman without obtaining her informed consent may be liable to her for damages in a civil action at law.
A physician would also be required to orally inform the woman of the nature of the procedure, including risks, the probable gestational age and characteristics of the fetus, and her right to see an ultrasound. The physician would be required to offer alternatives to abortion and confirm that the pregnant woman had seen all the written informational materials provided.
Similar to H 1565, which failed to pass the previous session.