Abortion-Funding Signature Shortage Is the Start of Something Beautiful

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/12/16/abortion-funding-signature-shortage-is-the-start-of-something-beautiful/

The recent failure of pro-life activists to get enough signatures to put an anti-abortion-funding ballot question on the 2020 statewide ballot is no failure at all.

It’s never fun to set a goal, work hard, and not make it. But neither is it always that important. In many cases, the work is what matters, and what it makes possible in the future.

In this case, it’s the possibility of someday stopping taxpayer funding of abortions in Massachusetts, and thereby reducing the number of abortions in the state.

While they came up more than 7,000 signatures short this fall, pro-lifers have identified and energized volunteers. They have worked out the kinks in their approach.

They also managed to persuade two of the four Roman Catholic bishops in Massachusetts to allow signature gathering on church property. The four bishops’ joint decision June 1 to ban signature gathering was unfortunate and wrong; but two of them deserve credit for reconsidering. We trust that next time around all four will do the right thing.

And the delay may actually prove a blessing, because when pro-life activists start the process again in 2019, they’ll be aiming for a statewide ballot in 2022. That may be better timing, since it’s not a presidential election. Not only will pro-lifers likely make up a higher percentage of voters in 2022, but also voters who participate in an off-presidential-year election tend to be more serious about things like how public money is spent.

The movement is the brainchild of Tom Harvey, a lawyer who about six years ago came up with the idea and the elegant wording for the proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution:

“Nothing in this Constitution requires the public funding of abortion.”

In 10 words, the amendment says everything it needs to say.

Technically, it’s redundant, because the Massachusetts Constitution already has nothing in it that requires the public funding of abortion. Indeed, the state constitution says nothing about abortion, let alone funding it. But our chronically corrupt Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 1981 that the state constitution requires the government to pay for abortions for poor women if it pays for any care related to pregnancy and childbirth through Medicaid.

The case, Moe vs. Secretary of Administration and Finance, is a prime example of a court figuring out the desired policy result and then reasoning backwards – illogically – to try to justify it. The proposed amendment would overturn this unjust decision.

The amendment would not actually stop taxpayer funding of abortion in Massachusetts. That would require a further referendum or an act of the state Legislature. But you have to start somewhere.

And that’s the most important aspect of the signature drive. For 44 years, since Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers in Massachusetts have been resisting abortion and promoting life – including heroic efforts to help women with problem pregnancies. But in terms of law, pro-lifers haven’t gotten anywhere since the Supreme Judicial Court did its dirty deed in 1981.

Even more important, no one has been fighting the pro-abortion power through democratic means. Since voters turned down pro-life initiatives twice during the mid-1980s, no others have been brought.

“But the Massachusetts pro-life movement now has an opportunity to take a giant step forward,” Harvey says. “It can start playing offense instead of constantly being on defense.”

Offense is the place to be. It’s where things get done.

Take, for instance, the experience of homosexuality advocates 30 years ago. For 16 years in a row, activists brought measures to the state Legislature trying to add sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in Massachusetts. Every time they failed. In the early years, they failed because most legislators disagreed with the measure. In later years, they failed because key legislative leaders spiked the measure on parliamentary grounds.

But finally, in 1989, the 17th year, they got the bill through the Legislature.

The point here is not about what these activists were advocating for. The point is how they did it. They didn’t stop.

Neither should pro-lifers.

Trying to stop babies from being killed before they’re born is the best of causes. It can’t fail. The little ones are counting on it.