As 2020 comes to a close, both state and local governments are making financial and budget preparations for 2021. However, in the midst of these decisions, abortion rights advocates lobbyed and were able to pass a major policy within the annual state budget. So far, the bill has passed through both the House and Senate, with the decision to approve the amendment ultimately up to Governor Charlie Baker.
So what is the ROE Act Amendment and what does this mean for abortion access in Massachusetts? This post answers those questions.
One of the biggest impacts of the ROE Amendment is that it repeals requirements for minors to have parental consent before having an abortion. If you or a minor under your care is 16 or 17, they would not need a parent to consent in order to gain access to abortion services. This is concerning for a couple of reasons. The first is that parents and guardians are left completely in the dark on how to care for any potential repercussions after an abortion. Minors who can’t even vote could make such a life-changing decision without effectively anyone knowing, which is both dangerous and ill advised.
ABORTIONS AFTER 24 WEEKS
Current law in Massachusetts bans abortions after 24 weeks with the exception of saving the life of the mother. The proposed policy in the annual state budget pushes for abortion access to be expanded to include unborn babies diagnosed with a fatal abnormality. In addition, the language supports access to abortion based on a “medical determination” instead of restricting it to extreme and rare cases. This amendment opens the door for a culture of eugenics. For example, children with supposed fetal abnormalities are devalued both literally and figuratively in this case. An in vitro (in the womb) diagnosis is not always accurate either, which means many babies would lose their lives without real cause.
REMOVED PROTECTIONS FOR ABORTION SURVIVORS
Thirdly, there is a subtle but important change in the proposed amendment’s language. Under current Massachusetts law, a physician who performs an abortion is responsible for preserving the life of an abortion survivor. This includes having access to life-saving equipment in the room where the procedure takes place. However, the new amendment only requires that life-saving equipment be in the room, completely absolving a physician from the responsibility of actually using it. This bill would also allow for a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or physician assistant to perform the abortion, which means less protection for the mother and baby due to potential lack of training and/or experience.
Want to learn more about the implications this amendment would have on Massachusetts families? Call or email us, or find more information at https://www.masscitizensforlife.org.