Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed controversial legislation on Christmas Eve that would expand abortion access up until the moment of birth and remove a parental consent requirement for minors ages 16 and 17.
Baker, a Republican governor in a left-leaning state, said in a veto message he supports legalized abortion but opposes two elements of the bill – the late-term abortion expansion and the change to parental consent law.
The abortion expansion was part of a budget bill that passed the legislature.
“I strongly support a woman’s right to access reproductive health care, and many provisions of this bill,” Baker wrote in his veto message. “I support, for example, the provision that would enable a woman to access an abortion where the child would not survive after birth, and the modifications to the judicial by-pass process that make it more accessible to minors who are unable to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian. I also support the changes that eliminate many outdated requirements and the 24-hour waiting period.
“However, I cannot support the sections of this proposal that expand the availability of late-term abortions and permit minors age 16 and 17 to get an abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian,” Baker wrote. “I, therefore, again urge the Legislature to enact the compromise version of this bill that would affirmatively protect a woman’s right to access an abortion, but would restore the existing framework around late-term abortions and parental consent.”
Pro-life groups, including the Massachusetts Family Institute and the Catholic Action League, had urged Baker to veto it. Massachusetts law allows governors to “line-item veto” specific parts of a bill.
The House and Senate, each controlled by Democrats, are expected to try and override Baker’s veto.
The bill expands access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. It also removes language from current law that requires doctors to “take all reasonable steps, both during and subsequent to the abortion” to “preserve the life and health of the aborted child” if it survives an abortion.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.