The ROE Act in Massachusetts is Dangerous

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Friday, April 12, 2019


In a time when many states, like New York and Virginia, are trying to expand abortion access, Massachusetts has become the latest state to capitalize on this trend.

The “ROE Act,” proposed by Patricia Haddad, the Democratic Speaker Pro Tempore of the State House, and Jay Livingstone, a Democratic representative, will amend the state’s abortion laws to expand access and medical coverage to women across the state. The bill currently has 92 co-sponsors in the State House and 22 co-sponsors in the State Senate, according to Planned Parenthood. Although it’s been circulating in the news recently, there is no set date for a hearing or vote.

So, what will the ROE Act do?

First, it amends the definition of ‘abortion’ in the state’s laws. Section 1 of this bill will amend Chapter 112, Section 12K of the state’s general laws, which currently defines abortion as “the knowing destruction of the life of an unborn child or the intentional expulsion or removal of an unborn child from the womb other than for the principal purpose of producing a live birth or removing a dead fetus.” The new definition under Section 1 will redefine abortion as “any medical treatment intended to induce the termination of a clinically diagnosable pregnancy except for the purpose of producing a live birth.”

This revised definition removes many of the traditionally negative connotations surrounding an abortion, theoretically helping to remove the stigma surrounding abortion. However, it refuses to emphasize that abortion destroys the life of an unborn child which is true regardless of one’s opinions on abortion. While both definitions are true, the proposed definition undermines the fact that abortion kills the unborn.

Section 2 is far more expansive and rules out all state involvement that would restrict access to abortion, no matter the circumstance. The bill would amend Section 12L to say, “The Commonwealth shall not interfere with a person’s personal decision and ability to prevent, commence, terminate, or continue their own pregnancy consistent with this chapter. The Commonwealth shall not restrict the use of medically appropriate methods of abortion or the manner in which medically appropriate abortion is provided.” Another part of this section will allow doctors to perform abortions regardless of how far along the woman is in her pregnancy.

Current law forbids doctors from performing abortions for women who are over 24 weeks pregnant, but this bill will legalize late-term abortions by amending Section 12M of Chapter 112.

The most radical part about Section 2 is that it would remove Section 12P, which requires doctors performing abortions to take proper steps to ensure the life and health of an aborted child, including the use of life-supporting machines in the operating room. Nowhere in the bill’s text does it offer any protection for survivors of abortion, nor is there any sympathy towards the unborn or the born-alive to be found.

Section 3 would repeal a current state law that forbids women under the age of 18 from getting an abortion, even with parental consent. This removes all parental involvement in abortion, so a teenage girl would have complete autonomy in the process and the entire abortion process could be performed secretly.

Section 4 would amend the state’s Healthy Start program to include abortion under its medical coverage for women who lack health insurance or whose current insurance does not cover pregnancy. This is less radical than Sections 2 and 3, but still guarantees that taxpayers will fund abortion procedures.

With 92 co-sponsors in the State House and 22 in the State Senate, it is almost certain that the Massachusetts General Court will pass this bill. However, Governor Charlie Baker, a pro-choice Republican, may stand up against this dangerous bill. In a recent press conference, Gov. Baker said, “I don’t support late-term abortions. I support [the] current law here in Massachusetts. It’s worked well for decades for women and families here in Massachusetts and that’s what we support.” Although he distanced himself from the Massachusetts GOP Chairman’s rhetoric about the bill, Gov. Baker is likely to use his veto power against it.

While the Democratic sponsors and pro-choice organizations claim the bill is a victory for women’s reproductive rights and a pushback against the Trump Administration’s hostility towards abortion, they show that they lack sympathy for born and unborn children alike.

This bill would be far less radical if Speaker Haddad or Rep. Livingstone included a provision that guaranteed that babies surviving abortion would receive healthcare after the failed operation, but this bill sweeps away that current protection.

This bill fails to protect life, but it’s quite effective at helping the sponsors continue to stay on good terms with Planned Parenthood, whose top priority in Massachusetts is this bill.

Aidan McIntosh is a member of The Catholic University of America's Class of 2022. After Edward Snowden's revelations about the N.S.A. in 2013, he began to take an interest in politics and understand the merits of limited government and personal freedom. He has a strong passion for constitutional law, religious liberty, and foreign policy, and enjoys hiking, powerlifting, and writing about music.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Aidan McIntosh

Catholic University

Aidan McIntosh is a member of The Catholic University of America's Class of 2022. After Edward Snowden's revelations about the N.S.A. in 2013, he began to take an interest in politics and understand the merits of limited government and personal freedom. He has a strong passion for constitutional law, religious liberty, and foreign policy, and enjoys hiking, powerlifting, and writing about music.

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