Massachusetts AG: Abortion-Funding Ballot Question Can Proceed

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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has certified a proposed ballot question that would make it possible to stop state funding for abortion.

Now supporters need to get signatures from at least 64,750 registered voters by December 6.

If they get them, the measure would need to get approval from at least 25 percent of Massachusetts legislators twice:  once in 2018, and a second time during the 2019-2020 legislative session.

If all those things occur, the measure would go on the statewide general election ballot in November 2020.

The proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution is simple:  “Nothing in this constitution requires the public funding of abortion.”

The state has funded abortions for poor women though Medicaid continuously since 1981, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the 1978 Flynn-Doyle Bill banning public funding for abortion violated the Massachusetts Constitution. If approved, the newly proposed constitutional amendment would overturn the court decision.

The state Attorney General’s office announced the certification on Wednesday.

The state constitution prohibits certain types of measures from going to a statewide ballot and also limits the circumstances in which a petition can be considered. Certification means a measure has passed the Attorney General’s constitutional review, but does not imply a position on the merits.

The proposed constitutional amendment wouldn’t cut off state funding for abortion, but rather make it possible to do so. If the constitutional amendment takes effect, then stopping public funding of abortion in Massachusetts would require a vote of the state Legislature or a subsequent statewide ballot question approved by voters.

The constitutional amendment ballot question is sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance To Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortion.