Cementing abortion’s place in Massachusetts
Abortion | The state legislature overrides governor’s veto on pro-abortion legislation
by Leah Hickman
Posted 12/30/20, 01:14 pm
Abortion is set to become a codified right in Massachusetts after the state Legislature overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto on a pro-abortion budget amendment this week. The House voted 107-46 on Monday to push through the legislation despite the governor’s objections, and the Senate agreed the next day with a vote of 32-8.
Baker vetoed the Roe Act on Christmas Eve, citing concerns with a section that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to get abortions without parental consent and with wording that broadens exceptions for women seeking to abort their babies after 24 weeks. He had already returned the legislation once before with suggested amendments, including protecting babies after 24 weeks unless the pregnancies pose “a substantial risk” to the mental or physical health of the mother. The legislature rejected the changes and sent the amendment back to his desk the week before Christmas. The votes on Monday and Tuesday were the final steps to pass the legislation without the governor’s approval.
Despite his concerns, the Republican governor said he “strongly” supports codifying a right to abortion in state law and removing an existing 24-hour waiting period mandate. The legislation also allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives to perform the procedure and removes requirements that abortionists “take all reasonable steps … to preserve the life and health of the aborted child” who is born alive.
The legislation died in committee earlier this year due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But the pro-abortion lawmakers renewed their push following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September, anticipating a pro-life shift on the court.
“Beginning today, pregnant people who once faced near-insurmountable barriers accessing abortion care can now seize the right to control their own bodies,” Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, one of the legislators behind the budget language, said Tuesday.
But pro-lifers fear losing the protections will endanger the lives of more babies as well as their mothers. Massachusetts Citizens for Life called the legislature’s action “an elitist gesture” that ignored Baker’s request to keep special interest policy items out of the budget: “The legislature has sent a clear message to Massachusetts citizens: We work for the abortion lobby, not for you or the public health.”
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