The Massachusetts Senate approved an amendment Wednesday during their state budget debate that would protect and expand third-trimester abortion rights, bringing it to the desk of pro-choice Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who has not said publicly whether he would sign it.
The Senate approved the amendment in a 33-7 vote after the House approved it on Nov. 12 by a more than 2-1 margin.
Amendment 180 would expand late-term abortion rights by allowing women to obtain an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of “fatal fetal anomalies,” unlike the current law, which only allows abortion after 24 weeks in cases where the life or health of the mother is at risk.
Also, girls as young as 16 could get an abortion without the permission of a parent, changing the current law, which requires at least one parent’s consent or judicial consent to have an abortion for those under 18.
The move to codify abortion rights into state law was done following the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, which cemented a conservative majority that many pro-abortion activists fear will lead to an overturn of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
Though pro-abortion groups like the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts and the ACLU Massachusetts applauded the decision, using terms like health care and reproductive freedom, many pro-lifers have spoken out against it.
“When the state legislature took the extraordinary step of extending its legislative session from July 31st all the way to the end of the calendar year, we were assured that this was only to allow the extra time needed for essential legislation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the pro-life organization Massachusetts Family Institute. “Instead, within days of the election, this lame duck session inserted an extreme and controversial abortion expansion into a list of hundreds of amendments to the state’s budget. At a time when we are largely shutting down the Commonwealth (again) in response to a disease that has claimed the lives of 10,000 Bay Staters, these legislators are pulling out all the stops to expand a practice which routinely ends over 18,000 lives a year in Massachusetts.”
A group of Catholic bishops also issued a joint statement against the amendment.
Gov. Baker, though stopping short of saying he would veto the measure, seemed to share his fellow Republicans’ distaste for including it in the larger budget bill.
“I do share some of the unhappiness that was raised by a number of members of the Republican Party—that putting policy in the budget was something that both leaders in the House and Senate said they would not do,” Baker said, according to Boston.com. “And it’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t a major policy initiative that is now in the budget.”
Photo: CoCo Jones/Alamy Stock Photo