Governor Charlie Baker has signaled his support for the state legislature’s ongoing effort to repeal archaic Massachusetts laws on abortion that date back to the 19th century. The repeal was approved by the Massachusetts House today, and could go to Baker's desk later this week. But just how archaic are these old laws? Rebecca Hart Holder is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, a group that advocates for a woman's right to an abortion. She spoke with WGBH's All Things Considered anchor Barbara Howard about how the laws in question have been used more recently than you might think. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Barbara Howard: So there was a case a little more than a decade ago, in 2007, in which an 18-year-old woman, Amber Abreu, was charged by the office of the Essex County district attorney Jonathan Blodgett, which cited one of the statutes that's up for repeal. That was after she allegedly self-induced an abortion. Can you talk about her case?

Rebecca Hart-Holder: That's right. She took Misoprostol a little later in pregnancy — that's a series of pills. From my understanding, she went to a hospital and she delivered a live baby that later died.

Howard: My understanding is that the medical examiner performed an autopsy and declared Abreu had been 25 weeks pregnant. The cut off is 24. Before that it's legal to get an abortion.

Hart-Holder: Right, so my understanding is that the prosecutor’s office wasn't able to bring homicide charges because they couldn't tell about the viability of the fetus.

Howard: What was the law that they were using?

Hart-Holder: They were using a law from 1845 that makes it illegal to procure a miscarriage. And that law still sits on our books today.

Howard: What other laws like that are out there?

Hart-Holder: There are a host of archaic laws that make it illegal for women to get contraception if they're unmarried, for pharmacists to give out contraception, for pharmacists or doctors to advertise about contraception or abortion services. There are just a host of laws that kind of don't comport with modern life.

Howard: And this woman Amber Abreu, what's her status right now?

Hart-Holder: I know that she was not punished with jail time and for that I'm grateful.

Howard: It didn't go to court. There was a pre-trial plea for a year of counseling and then an expungement of her record.

Hart-Holder: We believe if the law had actually been used against Ms. Abreu, it would have been challenged and we believe that the Supreme Judicial Court would have found it unconstitutional.

Howard: But since that didn't happen, it still is on the books.

Hart-Holder: That's right. The law is on the books right now. It's unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. If Roe is overturned and gutted and the law still stands on the books, we could be entering some kind of liminal space in Massachusetts.

Howard: And that of course is what people are concerned about in your office: that Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion under federal law — could be overturned, especially with the upheaval in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the new appointee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Hart-Holder: I am very concerned about the fall of Roe and the confusion that will result. So I'm particularly concerned about women who are not familiar with the state and federal law system that works in our country, and immigrant women in particular who might see the headlines that Roe has fallen and not understand that access to abortion is still legal here in Massachusetts.

Howard: And then what would happen if Roe were overturned?

Hart-Holder: What I think would happen is that the rate of self-managed abortion would go up. So women attempting their own abortion because they don't understand that they can still get a legal abortion here in Massachusetts.

Howard: We have rather liberal abortion rights laws on our books. Will we be seeing a spillover of people coming into Massachusetts to get an abortion?

Hart-Holder: I think we will. I think anywhere where there's a direct flight to Massachusetts, if Roe falls, you're going to see women coming to Massachusetts to get our excellent health care.

Howard: And that's been done before. Back prior to 1973’s Roe v. Wade, women routinely crossed state lines to get an abortion.

Hart-Holder: Absolutely. There's certainly precedent.

Howard: For those who don't remember those days, what kinds of methods were used to induce an abortion?

Hart-Holder: The stories that I've heard told are that sharp objects, coat hangers, violent methods attacking the uterus of a woman to induce a miscarriage were used. And certainly there were providers who were offering safe care to women at the time, but they were hard to find.

Howard: And if they got caught, they were in trouble.

Hart-Holder: Exactly.

Howard: Thanks for joining us.

Hart-Holder: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Howard: That's Rebecca Hart Holder. She's Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. It's a group that advocates for a woman's right to an abortion. The Massachusetts legislature is currently working on the repeal of several state laws from the 19th century pertaining to abortion. Gov. Charlie Baker has said that he does intend to support their repeal. This is All Things Considered.