By Bob Katzen
The Senate on a voice vote without a roll call vote, approved the bill that would allow abortions after 24 weeks in the case of lethal fetal anomalies and lower the age from 18 to 16 at which a minor can choose to have an abortion without parental or judicial consent.
The House and Senate sent the bill back to Gov. Baker after they rejected several of his proposed amendments including raising the age of consent back to 18. This time, Baker vetoed the entire bill. The House and Senate are poised to override the bill—they have sufficient support in each branch to do so.
“I strongly support a woman’s right to access reproductive health care, and many provisions of this bill,” said Baker in a letter that accompanied his veto. ”I support, for example, the provision that would enable a woman to access an abortion where the child would not survive after birth, and the modifications to the judicial bypass process that make it more accessible to minors who are unable to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian. I also support the changes that eliminate many outdated requirements and the 24-hour waiting period.”
“However, I cannot support the sections of this proposal that expand the availability of later-term abortions and permit minors age 16 and 17 to get an abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian,” continued Baker. “I again urge the Legislature to enact the compromise version … [that I proposed] that would affirmatively protect a woman’s right to access an abortion but would restore the existing framework around late-term abortions and parental consent.”
“Gov. Baker’s veto of this legislation demonstrates a callous and dangerous disregard for the health and wellbeing of the people of the commonwealth,” read a statement from the ROE Act Coalition which includes the ACLU of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. “With this veto, the governor has made plain that he has no problem imposing medically unnecessary barriers that delay and deny care and forcing families to fly across the country to get compassionate care. Our abortion laws are broken, and with two recent actions against equitable abortion access, Gov. Baker is upholding our broken system.”
“These provisions are supported by large majorities in both chambers, and we respectfully call on the Legislature to override the governor’s veto,” continued the statement. “Unlike Gov. Baker, legislators understand that merely affirming the abstract right to safe, legal abortion is not enough; we must protect and improve abortion access so every person can get the care they need. It is up to the Legislature to once again lead where Gov. Baker has failed.”
“House Speaker DeLeo is spending his Christmas Eve tripling down on abortion extremism, promising that he will fight for young girls to have abortions and babies born alive can be left to die,” said Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith. “Santa is going to run out of coal filling his stocking.”
“Gov. Baker was correct to veto this amendment,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle. “The entire rationale for it was bogus.”
“Nothing President Donald Trump’s appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court may do regarding Roe v. Wade will have any impact on the 1981 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Moe v. Hanley, which established a right to abortion under the Massachusetts Constitution,” Doyle continued. “This measure was always about agitprop, fundraising and muscle flexing by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, who have successfully exploited and monetized liberal paranoia about Donald Trump and the Supreme Court.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the bill expanding abortion. A “No” vote is against it. The Senate did not hold a roll call on the bill last week.The senators’ votes listed are from November 18 when the Senate first approved the measure by a 33-7 vote.)
Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes