OVERRIDE BAKER’S VETO OF BILL TO INCREASE ABORTION ACCESS

By Bob Katzen

The House 107-50, Senate 32-8, overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of a 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.

“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 I also support the changes that eliminate many outdated requirements and the 24-hour waiting period.”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.

“With the passing of the ROE Act, Massachusetts has codified reproductive rights, protected vulnerable populations, empowered women, created an environment for healthier families, combated racial injustice, and made it loud and clear, that Massachusetts values are contrary to the values of the current president, and the deeply conservative Supreme Court that Donald Trump and his right-wing colleagues and allies have helped create,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Senate chair of the Judiciary Committee.

“There are no surprises here,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle. “Elected officials are proficient at cost-benefit analyses. Democratic legislators know they have more to fear from a progressive primary challenger than they do from a pro-life Republican in the general election. This vote marks the completion of a historic reversal. For most of the 20th century, Bay State Democrats, at the state and local level at least, were socially conservative, while Republicans were socially liberal. As late as 1978, a pro-life Democrat, Ed King, ran against a pro-abortion Republican, Frank Hatch, for governor. Now, Charlie Baker notwithstanding, legislators from both sides reflect their national parties.”

“The passage of these reforms to improve abortion access is a historic milestone for reproductive freedom in Massachusetts,” 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. “Today, the commonwealth reestablished itself as a national leader in health care by removing political barriers to abortion and becoming the first state to legislatively ease burdensome restrictions on young people’s access to care. The Legislature’s leadership means no Bay State family who receives a devastating diagnosis later in pregnancy will ever be forced to fly across the country to access compassionate care and no 16- or 17-year-old will ever be forced to navigate the court system to access the health care they need. This legislation will significantly improve the health and wellbeing of Massachusetts residents and represents an important step in removing medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care in our state.”

“The ROE Act was introduced nearly two years ago,” said Myrna Maloney Flynn, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. “Every day since then, thousands of Massachusetts Citizens for Life members, who reside in every corner of our state, used their voices to speak for those who cannot. They learned the truth about this irresponsible and dangerous legislation and bravely spread that truth within their communities—even during a pandemic. Almost as disheartening as this new law is the fact that legislators rammed this damaging bill through during COVID-19, inserting it into the state budget, knowing our opposition could not fight it in person due to quarantine restrictions.”

Flynn continued, “So while we pause today to grieve for the many lives that will be severely damaged and lost as a result of the ROE Act, we anticipate, much as abolitionists did, the inevitability of a brighter tomorrow. Pro-lifers know setbacks. What we don’t know how to do is give up, look the other way, and allow injustice to stand.”

“It’s heartbreaking to see that our legislators are so enslaved to Planned Parenthood,” said Andrew Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Family Institute. “There are over 18,000 abortions every year in Massachusetts, which averages out to the deaths of more than 125 on the heads of every state representative and state senator who voted to override the governor’s veto.”

“Abortion is health care,” responded the ROE Act Coalition. “This legislation will significantly improve the health and wellbeing of Massachusetts residents and represents an important step in removing medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care in our state. Tens of thousands of Massachusetts voters advocated to improve access to safe, legal abortion and applaud the legislatures’ unwavering leadership in the face of a global pandemic, inflammatory attacks from anti-abortion activists, and a governor who stood in the way of meaningful reform.”

“Sen. Chandler’s office does not respond to libelous and out of touch statements like the one from Mr. Beckwith,” responded Kevin Connor, the communications director for the Worcester Democrat. “One might remind him that the vast majority of Massachusetts voters support abortion.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill expanding abortion. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

MORE VETOES
Gov. Baker vetoed millions of dollars in funding in the $46.2 billion fiscal 2021 state budget. This is in sharp contrast to last fiscal year when, in an unusual move, the governor signed the fiscal 2020 state budget into law without vetoing any of the $43.3 billion in spending approved by the House and Senate.

Baker said his reason for vetoing most of the funding in this fiscal 2021 budget was because it was not consistent with the budget he had filed.

Override supporters defended the funding and the programs and said cutting them would be irresponsible and result in a cut in services.

Here are some of the vetoes:

$121,395 FOR MASSACHUSETTS COMMISSION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION (H 5164)

House 144-11, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s $121,395 veto reduction (from $4,169,189 to $4,047,794) in funding for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). According to its website, the MCAD’s mission is to “eradicate discrimination in the commonwealth by investigating and prosecuting complaints of discrimination that occur in employment, housing, public places, access to education, lending and credit.” The MCAD also offers training to help prevent discrimination from occurring.

(A Yes” vote is for the $121,395. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

$191,845 FOR STATE ETHICS COMMISSION (H 5164)
House 147-8, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s $191,845 veto reduction (from $2,583,694 to $ 2,391,849) in funding for the State Ethics Commission. According to its website, the commission is “an independent state agency that administers and enforces the provisions of the conflict-of-interest law and financial disclosure law.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $191,845. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

$12,448 FOR THE DIVISION OF LOCAL MANDATES (H 5164)
House 126-30, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s $12,448 veto reduction (from $381,474 to $369,026) in funding for the Division of Local Mandates. According to its website, the division “responds to requests from local government leaders to determine if a state law is an unfunded mandate on municipalities. In addition, we serve as a source of information on issues harming municipal budgets and provide recommendations to address those issues.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $12,448. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

$19 MILLION FOR MASSHEALTH FOR DENTAL BENEFITS (H 5164)
House 124-31, Senate 37-2, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of $19 million funding for MassHealth for expanded dental benefits for adult members.

“I am striking language that earmarks funding for a program expansion not recommended,” wrote Gov. Baker in his veto message.

“At a time when managing chronic conditions and helping people stay healthy could not be more important, reinstating these services for the first time in 10 years will make a meaningful impact on the health of thousands of Massachusetts residents,” said Amy Rosenthal, executive director of Health Care for All. “State budget shortfalls led to significant cuts to adult dental benefits in MassHealth in 2010. Since then, advocates and legislative leaders have worked together to incrementally restore these benefits including coverage of fillings, full dentures, gum disease treatment and now finally root canals and crowns.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $19 million. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

$2,427,239 FOR THE CANNABIS CONTROL COMMISSION (H 5164)
House 127-28, Senate 37-2, overrode Gov. Baker’s $2,427,239 million veto reduction (from $12,400,000 to $9,972,761) in funding for the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). According to its website, “the mission of the commission is to honor the will of the voters of Massachusetts by safely, equitably and effectively implementing and administering the laws enabling access to medical and adult use marijuana in the commonwealth.”

(A “Yes” vote is focr the $2.4 million. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

DELEO RESIGNS, HOUSE ELECTS REP. RON MARIANO SPEAKER
Former House Speaker Bob DeLeo resigned last week to take a job at Northeastern University. His second in command, Majority Leader Ron Mariano (D-Quincy) was easily elected as the new speaker of the House. Mariano received 123 votes. GOP Rep. Brad Jones (D-North Reading), the current minority leader, received 31 votes.

All Democrats who voted did so for Mariano. All members of the GOP voted for Jones.

Reps. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown) of Watertown and Tami Gouveia (D-Acton) did not vote while Denise Rep. Provost (D-Somerville) voted “present.”

Rep. Christine Barber Voted for Mariano Rep. Mike Connolly Voted for Mariano Rep. Denise Provost Present

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