BOSTON — Lawmakers in Massachusetts have passed an amendment attached to a budget bill, essentially allowing abortion up to birth for “fatal fetal anomalies” and lowering the age of parental consent from under 18 to under 16. It is not clear whether or not Republican Gov. Charlie Baker plans to sign the measure into law.
Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Claire Cronin, D-Easton, had presented Amendment 759 as an attachment to House Bill 5150, the budget for fiscal year 2021.
According to text on the legislature website, the amendment allows abortion after 24 weeks when “in the best medical judgment of the physician, an abortion is warranted because of a lethal fetal anomaly that is incompatible with sustained life outside the uterus.”
It permits nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and midwives to perform abortions and states that abortive mothers under 16 must obtain consent from one parent (or can go to the courts if that is not possible), and “in deciding whether to grant such consent, a patient’s parent shall consider only the patient’s best interests.”
The amendment passed in the House of Representatives last Thursday by a vote of 108-49, followed by a 33-7 vote in the Senate on Wednesday.
All four Republicans in the Senate voted against the amendment: Bruce Tarr of Glouchester, Ryan Fattman of Sutton, Patrick O’Connor of Weymouth and Dean Tran of Fitchburg. Three Democrats did as well: Michael Rush of Boston, Walter Timilty of Miltona and John Velis of Westfield.
Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate characterize the amendment as being necessary in light of a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“In the wake of the threat to reproductive rights for women on the national level, I’m proud of the House vote to remove barriers to women’s reproductive health options and protect the concepts enshrined in Roe v. Wade,” Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a statement, reports NBC Boston.
“The time has come for urgent action,” also remarked Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, according to local radio station WBUR. “I believe in an affirmative right to choose, but this right now hangs in the balance. Those of us who remember the days before legal abortion and contraception must unite with those of us who never knew those dark times to protect this right at all costs.”
However, pro-family groups expressed concern about the amendment’s attempts to codify and expand abortion in the Commonwealth.
“340 girls under the age of 18 had abortions in Massachusetts in 2019. Under this legislation, their parents would no longer have the right to even know,” wrote the Massachusetts Family Institute.
“Pray for the hearts of those who want to see abortion expanded, that they will look upon human life as a great gift from God to be accepted and loved, not as an unwanted burden to be destroyed. Pray for continued courage and boldness for those who are standing for life in the halls of government as well as in the real-life situations where women are being supported to choose life,” also urged the site My Faith Votes.
It is not known whether Gov. Baker, who supports keeping abortion legal, plans to sign the legislation. He has, however, expressed concern that the matter was inserted into a budget bill and undoubtedly “doing policy in the budget.”
As previously reported, abortion has long been considered murder by Christians, an impermissible act of the mother to play God by choosing who lives or dies.
In 1896, the American Medical Association Press published an essay from Dr. William McCollom, who, in part, expressed concern that pastors were seemingly not speaking out about the issue of abortion as he saw that the practice was both prevalent in the world and “on the increase among professed Christian women.”
“Let us do our duty, if our spiritual advisors neglect to do this, in denouncing this common crime and great sin,” he wrote in addressing his fellow physicians.
“The field for missionary work is a large one and should be faithfully worked, both by the conscientious physician and the Protestant Christian clergy, who perhaps fully understand the enormity of the sin if they do not know how prevalent it is,” McCollom said. “It is not a pleasant subject to discuss before a mixed audience. Young women could be reached, instructed and warned by a properly published circular or tract sent to them by Christian organizations at intervals.”
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