The Massachusetts state legislature has voted to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of a budget measure that would codify Roe v. Wade into state law and would also allow teenagers to get an abortion without parental consent. The measure also allows abortions after 24 weeks gestation in some cases.
The abortion proposal was introduced as part of the state’s general appropriations bill. Massachusetts Democrats introduced the measure to codify Roe v. Wade amid fears that the Supreme Court will repeal its 1974 ruling that legalized abortion. The new law will allow abortions after 24 weeks in some cases, as well as allow teenagers ages 16 and older (and in some cases younger) to have an abortion without parental consent. Gov. Charlie Baker, R, had offered amendments to the bill regarding the consent issue, but legislators refused to include them, causing him to veto the bill. The Massachusetts House and Senate, each with a Democrat majority, both overrode Baker’s veto. The Massachusetts law comes on the heels of a District of Columbia law that allows children as young as 11 years old to be vaccinated without parental consent or knowledge.
The Commonwealth’s House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D, had previously said that the budget was “not an appropriate place for major policy reform” but changed his mind in the wake of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court. DeLeo said,
“Following last week’s joint statement with Senate President (Karen) Spilka, in which we expressed concern over the threat to women’s reproductive rights on the national level, it is urgent that the House take up an immediate measure to remove barriers to women’s reproductive health options and protect the concepts enshrined in Roe v. Wade.”
Massachusetts law already allowed for late-term abortions if the life of the mother was in jeopardy, but this bill will allow for an abortion after 24 weeks in the case of fetal abnormalities. In addition, the Boston Globe reported that the new law “adjusts the language to give doctors discretion as to whether an abortion is necessary ‘to preserve’ the life of the mother.”
The bill also provides for the possibility of seeking a judicial order rather than parental consent for a minor under the age of 16 to get an abortion.
Over 300 pastors sent a letter to Baker asking him to veto the bill. Baker, who agrees with codifying Roe v. Wade into state law, took issue with lowering the age limit for minors to receive an abortion without parental consent. He offered amendments to the bill to leave the age limit intact, but the amendments were rejected. Baker then vetoed the bill.
The Massachusetts House voted 107-46 to override the governor’s veto, gaining a narrow two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto. The Senate followed up with a 32-8 vote, making the proposal state law.
Democrats lambasted Gov. Baker over his decision to veto the measure. Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair Gus Bickford said, “Charlie Baker’s cowardice doesn’t take a break for the holidays.”
“Hoping that we would all be too busy to notice, Charlie Baker once again caved in to the extreme right-wing of his Republican Party by vetoing critical abortion access provisions that would put our laws in line with neighboring states like Maine, New York, and Connecticut. Charlie Baker is choosing to stand with right-wing extremists, instead of doctors, women, and the vast majority of voters in Massachusetts.”
To Bickford, opposing a measure that would allow minors to have an abortion without parental consent and wanting to be cautious with language allowing for abortion after 24 weeks means you side with “right-wing extremists.”
By contrast, Massachusetts Republican Party Chair Jim Lyons praised Baker’s veto, saying,
“Gov. Baker correctly recognized that this legislation simply goes too far, and he should be applauded for standing up and saying ‘no’ to the abortion lobby. Gov. Baker’s decision, made the day before millions celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, should send a message to the lawmakers that this legislation has no place in a humane society.”
The Massachusetts law is similar to a recently passed District of Columbia law in that it undermines parents’ rights to make decisions and be informed of their children’s health and well-being. The D.C. legislation allows schools to vaccinate children as young as 11 years old without informing a parent or requiring their consent, and it goes so far as to mandate that medical personnel not record the vaccination on the child’s immunization record.
Massachusetts is a Democratic and pro-abortion stronghold, so despite Gov. Baker’s attempt to strike a compromise and display a little common sense with regard to allowing minors to make a major, life-altering medical decision without the consent or knowledge of their parents, this law was almost certain to become law. Bickford’s comments show that the Democrat party refuses to allow for any opposing viewpoint.
No rational person would suggest that Baker, who though he is a Republican is unabashedly pro-choice, was doing anything other than acting as the chief executive of his state and protecting the natural rights of Massachusetts parents, but any opposition to the left’s golden calf of unfettered abortion access will gain you nothing short of the slanderous label of “right-wing extremist.” It is far from cowardly to stand for what is right against an overwhelming and hostile majority, yet to Democrats, no compromises can be made. All must acquiesce to their views. What is cowardice is bowing to the whims of the abortion lobby and ramming this measure through as part of the general appropriations bill rather than allowing it to stand on its own merits and allowing Massachusetts citizens to have input.
This process also raises a question: If states are allowed to pass laws codifying their own take on Roe v. Wade, why is it necessary for the Supreme Court to uphold the decision or weigh in on any state restrictions? If the Massachusetts state legislature can determine that nearly unfettered abortion access is right for its citizens, then perhaps Alabama or any other conservative-leaning state can decide the degree to which abortion is allowed — or not allowed — in their jurisdiction.