By Bob Katzen

A controversial bill filed by Rep. Joe McKenna (R-Webster) would allow a taxpayer to check a box on his or her state income tax return indicating that he or she does not want his or her tax payment to be used to pay for state-funded “abortion services.”

While federal funds cannot be used to cover abortion, the state’s MassHealth program does cover abortion care. MassHealth is the state’s Medicaid program that provides health care for low-income and disabled persons.

The portion of the taxpayer’s income tax liability that is not used to pay for abortion services would be deposited into a special account to develop and implement a public information program to inform the general public of the Baby Safe Haven Law which was approved in 2004 and allows a parent to legally surrender newborn infants seven days old or younger at a hospital, police station or manned fire station without facing criminal prosecution.

“Most people, I hope, would agree that an individual’s tax dollars should not be spent on something they are morally and religiously opposed to,” said Rep. McKenna. “This bill ensures that taxpayers can avoid their hard-earned income taxes going to something that they find reprehensible in the abortion of unborn babies.”

“The right to safe, legal abortion means little to the person who can’t access care solely because of her income,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. “A person’s decision about whether or not to end a pregnancy should be based on what they know is best for them and their family—not what politicians will allow her insurance plan to cover. Any effort to block MassHealth insurance plans from covering abortion care is an attempt to create unnecessary, discriminatory, and costly barriers that jeopardize people’s health to make a political point.”

“No person should be forced, against their conscience, to subsidize what they understand to be mass murder,” said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts. “The American jurisprudential tradition has held that a reasonable accommodation ought to be made respecting the sincerely held moral and religious beliefs of citizens. This legislation does just that.”

“At a time when millions of Bay Staters are struggling to get the health care they need, it is particularly outrageous, though not the least bit surprising, that anti-abortion politicians like Rep. McKenna are more focused on putting access to abortion care out of reach than they are responding to the pandemic,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “Abortion is health care, and it is time for politicians to stop trying to take it away from those who need it. [This bill] is yet another politically underhanded attempt by the radical anti-abortion movement to ban abortion in Massachusetts, and as with nearly all of their previous efforts, it will fail.”

“Taxpayers should not be forced to fund the intentional murder of unborn children,” said Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. “That is why we have historically had a broad, bipartisan consensus at the federal level prohibiting this type of government subsidizing of such a barbaric practice. It’s far past time for Massachusetts to do the same.”

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