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The ROE Act Is a Step Too Far

In a letter posted November 6, Mr. Mike Metzger wrote, “I am not pro-abortion. I don’t know anyone who is.” Yet Mr. Metzger positioned, I believe falsely, the Senate bill 1209 ROE Act as a measure to protect women. It doesn’t.
Let’s outline what the ROE Act really is:
• It allows 16-year-old girls to make the complex, emotional decision, without any parental or judicial guidance, to have a major life-changing (and potentially life threatening) surgery. 
• It allows the same 16-year-old girl to terminate her baby’s life through the ninth month – complete, unrestricted time limits.
• It strips away life-saving medical requirements for women who choose to have an abortion. These late-term abortions would not be required to be performed in a hospital or by a qualified doctor.
• It disregards the need for holistic care of girls who undergo abortion surgery. Without parental or judicial consent, who will oversee a 16-year-old’s post-procedure emotional and physiological care?
• It contradicts a significant precedent: 16-year-old girls cannot vote, cannot buy/ consume alcohol, buy/consume cigarettes, and are not allowed to marry without parental consent in Massachusetts. Why would we allow girls to make such a life changing and medically complicated decision without any input from the people who know them best?
• It lacks imperative nuance and forethought: what will happen if during the procedure the baby is “mistakenly” born alive? Will the person performing this abortion (who may not be a doctor) then be required to give life saving measures to the infant? Massachusetts law says yes for now, but will that too be stripped away?
     Our House of Representatives knows about the harm to women and girls the ROE Act would create. That’s why they are trying to get it done in the dark.
     Rep. Claire Cronin, the bill’s sponsor, together with Speaker DeLeo, decided to embed most of the stand-alone ROE Act, which has seen much opposition for months, into a budget amendment, where it could not be voted for or against on its own merits, but hastily swept into the overall budget vote.
     All this passed in an evening session this past week, where no real public forum could be held on this bill - all during a pandemic when the dire budget crisis has taken center stage.
     It’s clear this is about making a statement, not about actually protecting women. The State of Massachusetts has safe and ample access to abortions for any woman 18 years or older, or minors with parental consent, up to 24 weeks.  Massachusetts law already protects a woman’s right to choose, with meaningful safety restrictions for both physical and mental well-being.
     I commend Representatives Garry (D), Harrington (R) and the other 47 legislators from both parties who see this for what it is – a step too far.
     Contact Senator Edward Kennedy to vote no on this amendment in the Senate. Also contact Governor Baker to use the line item veto stop this heinous and gruesome budget amendment – which would cause more harm to the women it claims to protect.
Ellen Paxton
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