After Coming Up Short, Abortion Public Funding Opponents Say They’ll Try Again

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By Katie Lannan

BOSTON — While opponents of an abortion funding initiative petition cheered the news that question would not make its way before voters, backers say they’re encouraged by the response they received and plan to try again in the future.

The group seeking a constitutional amendment that would allow the exclusion of abortion services from state-funded health care programs submitted signatures to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office by last week, but did not turn in enough to move on to the next stage in the process.

“We spent a lot of time, and there were a lot of people committed to it, and we came up just short,” Rep. Jim Lyons, one of the proponents of the amendment, told the News Service. Lyons said the group collected about 57,000 or 58,000 signatures and knew they were “close” to the required 64,750.

The signature-gathering process prompted a lot of discussion about where state law stands on abortion funding, Lyons said.

“We think it’s a very important issue,” he said. “This is legislation passed by judges in 1981 that over time, what happens, as you know, is things just become part of the landscape. What we’re trying to do is bring awareness to it, and let’s have a discussion of it, and let’s talk about whether tax dollars should be used for the intentional willful destruction of an unborn child.”

Lyons said initiative supporters more than doubled the roughly 25,000 signatures they gathered the last time they tried to put their measure on the ballot and are looking ahead to another shot, when they will likely get an earlier start at raising awareness.

Opponents of the question, a coalition including the ACLU of Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, were “gratified” the group did not gather enough signatures.

“The Massachusetts Constitution protects equal access to reproductive healthcare; we are gratified that our founding document will not be undermined by a small group of people trying to force their dangerous agenda on the women of the Commonwealth, and we are proud that the people of Massachusetts support equal and affordable healthcare for everyone,” the coalition said in a statement Wednesday.


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