Despite the debate surrounding abortion, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a new budget amending the expanded access to late-term abortion. What's more, it will also remove the protections for babies who survive an abortion.
The budget passed by the House got a vote of 143-14 although the abortion rights amendment was closer at 108-49. Democrats hold control of the state legislature, which also includes Republican state Governor Charlie Baker. He is opposed to late-term abortion.
Per the amendment that was sponsored by Democrat state Rep. Claire Cronin, certain words from the current law will be removed. This covers the part where doctors are required to take all necessary steps during an abortion to preserve the life and health of an aborted child.
"The new language states only that there must be 'life-supporting equipment' present, and eliminates the requirement for the abortionist to actually USE it," Massachusetts Citizens for Life said in a statement condemning the legislation.
The amendments included expanding access to abortion after 24 weeks. It also removes needed consent from parents on minors aged 16 and 17 who want an abortion. As expected, the lowered age at which minors will be allowed to undergo abortion raises some concerns. The original age was pegged at 18-years-old. The current law also includes a judicial bypass.
Previously, the government allowed abortion only after 24 weeks of pregnancy and only under the condition that the mother's health was at risk. The amendment will now allow pregnant mothers to have an abortion after 24 months under the condition that the unborn baby was diagnosed to have some "fatal birth defect" or condition.
With this development, the bill has now been passed to the Senate. Despite this, Gov. Baker was not happy about the amendment, the same sentiment shared by other members of the Republican Party, the Boston Globe reported.
"I do share some of the unhappiness that was raised by a number of members of the Republican Party - that putting policy in the budget was something that both leaders in the House and Senate said they would not do," Baker said. "And it's pretty hard to argue that this isn't a major policy initiative that is now in the budget."
Democrat House Speaker Robert DeLeo, however, expressed his happiness at the development.
"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," DeLeo said.
DeLeo previously stated that policy reforms would not be welcome in the spending bill due to the ongoing pandemic. The sudden change comes amid Democrats' fears that the new 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade - especially after the arrival of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the US Supreme Court
Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision by the US Supreme Court that allowed pregnant women to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. Pro-life conservatives are hoping that this will be overturned.
Baker restarted the budget process only last month, submitting a new spending plan for the fiscal year of 2021. He hopes to have the budget plan back from lawmakers by Thanksgiving, NBC Boston reported.