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Massachusetts governor vetoes pro-abortion measure that would codify Roe v. Wade

Massachusetts House

UPDATE 12/24/20: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has vetoed the pro-abortion measure that would expand abortion in the state and codify abortion into state law should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

“As I said in my amendment letter I strongly support a woman’s right to access reproductive health care, and many provisions of this bill,” Baker wrote in his veto message. “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 or knowledge of a parent or guardian.”

Baker had proposed changes to the measure after the House and Senate both passed the amendment in the state’s $46 million fiscal year budget. He signed the budget but sent the abortion amendment back, causing it to function as a standalone bill which is nearly identical to the ROE Act — which had failed to gain momentum in the state. The House and Senate refused Baker’s proposed changes and sent the original abortion language back to Baker, who has now vetoed it. However, both the Senate and the House have enough votes to override his veto.

12/22/20: Both the Massachusetts House and Senate have rejected Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed changes to the pro-abortion amendment lawmakers added to the state budget. Baker approved the budget of $46 million on December 11, 2020, but removed portions that included a proposal to expand abortion access in Massachusetts. The House voted 107-49 on December 16 and the Senate voted 32-8 on December 18, to reject Baker’s changes.

The amendment, which was approved in November by veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate, aims to allow abortion after 24 weeks for “fatal fetal anomalies,” and change the language to allow abortion after 24 weeks if a doctor determines an abortion will “preserve” the mother’s physical or mental health. Currently, abortion is only legal after 24 weeks in cases of “substantial risk of grave impairment” to the mother.

The amendment would also lower the age required to undergo an abortion without parental consent or judicial bypass from under 18 to under 16, and would remove language that requires doctors to attempt to save the lives of abortion survivors. The amendment was based on the extreme pro-abortion ROE Act, which failed to gain momentum. It will codify a right to abortion into Massachusetts law.

READ: Massachusetts governor attempts to scale back legislative efforts to expand abortion

In his attempt to scale back the pro-abortion amendment, Gov. Baker removed the change to the parental consent age and proposed a change to the language surrounding late-term abortion. He also wanted to impose penalties on abortionists who violate the abortion law after 24 weeks or who do not maintain life-saving equipment.

“These are important changes to protect a woman’s reproductive rights and autonomy in the commonwealth, and I support them,” Baker wrote about the abortion amendment that included allowing abortion after 24 weeks when the baby receives a fatal diagnosis. “However, I cannot support the other ways that this section expands the availability of late-term abortions and permits minors age 16 and 17 to get an abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian.”

According to Boston.com, House Speaker Bob DeLeo said in a statement that Baker’s changes would “erode the reproductive health protections the Legislature last month voted to put in place for Massachusetts.”

Representative Sheila Harrington asked her colleagues to allow changes to the amendment language. “We’re playing God if we are becoming the arbiters of whether the mother’s mental health preservation is more important than that baby’s life,” she said.

Baker, an abortion-supporting Republican, could veto the law (though there are enough votes to override his veto), sign it into law, or refuse to sign it — in which case, it would become law without his signature.

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