The Boston Bar Association (BBA) is deeply disappointed by the decision issued in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The prospect of such a ruling was so troubling that we issued a statement when an initial draft was leaked, and the final majority opinion offers little improvement on the issues we identified then.
We do wish to highlight, in particular, our concern regarding its implications for the constitutional right to privacy that has been a cornerstone of American jurisprudence for half a century. While the Court has reversed existing precedent in the past, such reversals are rare, with the most noteworthy instances involving the expansion of civil rights and civil liberties, as was the case in Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned the Court’s prior approval of segregation if “separate but equal”. By contrast, the majority opinion in Dobbs reverses long-established precedent in a troubling manner. This decision takes away a constitutional right that has allowed people to access a wide range of safe reproductive health care, including abortion, and enjoy the freedom to plan their lives, career paths and pregnancies, which has directly advanced the cause of gender equality.
In addition to the stark departure from precedent and rare revocation of a constitutional right, this decision has potentially far-reaching implications for reproductive, privacy and LGBTQ+ rights as currently protected by the Massachusetts General Laws and our state constitution. The BBA will seek to educate our members, and the public, on the challenging novel issues this ruling raises with respect to those long-established rights.
The Boston Bar Association traces its origins to meetings convened by John Adams, who provided pro bono representation to the British soldiers prosecuted for the Boston Massacre and went on to become the nation’s second president. Its mission is to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, serve the community at large and promote diversity and inclusion.