Markey Endorses ROE Act Bill, Accepts Early Endorsement from Pro-Abortion Group

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U.S. Senator Ed Markey endorsed the ROE Act abortion expansion bill in Massachusetts on Thursday while accepting an endorsement from a pro-abortion group.

“We’re at the forefront of this movement, the ROE Act, and making sure that we set the standard for the rest of the country to follow so that NARAL national has a state they can point to and say, ‘It’s happening in Massachusetts, as usual, and we should follow that leadership,” Markey said, according to State House News Service.

Supporters of the bill, which would remove almost all remaining restrictions on abortion in Massachusetts after 24 weeks, say it would make it easier for women who learn late in the pregnancy that their fetus has a fatal condition to get an abortion and that that’s a good thing. Opponents say it would lead to more late-term abortions even in cases without a fatal fetal anomaly and may even lead to infanticide, since it would remove an existing provision in state law that requires doctors to try to save the life of a baby born after an attempted abortion.

The bill had a long and contentious hearing before a legislative committee on Beacon Hill on June 17, but hasn’t seen action recently.

Markey (D-Malden), who appeared at the Boston office of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts on Thursday, August 15, also said there is “no greater honor” than accepting the endorsement of NARAL, which used to stand for National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.

The early endorsement, coming more than a year before the September 2020 state primaries, suggests the abortion-supporting organization thinks Markey will win the Democratic primary.

He has three opponents so far, and is also dealing with an online movement to draft U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III into the race. Kennedy has said he doesn’t plan to run for Markey’s seat.

“We think it’s really important to stand with our champions in the Senate,” said Nicole Brener Schmitz, the political director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, according to State House News Service. “We know the Senate is a crucial election in 2020. Obviously NARAL’s number one priority is to get Donald Trump out of the White House, but flipping the Senate, huge priority for us. We stand with people who stand with us.”

One of Markey’s Democratic opponents pointed out that Markey hasn’t always stood for abortion.

“I am glad that in Senator Markey’s decades in Washington, he has come around on the issue of abortion and now supports a woman’s right to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions,” said Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor lawyer who is running to Markey’s left, in a written statement, according to State House News Service. “I have long fought for women’s rights and the right to access safe, legal abortion services. As a young activist and co-founder of a national women’s movement, this has been and remains a priority for me. No one in the U.S. Senate will be a stronger advocate for women than me.”

When Markey ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976 he supported an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would outlaw abortion, as reported by The Boston Globe on October 21, 1976:

In recent years Markey has been a reliable supporter of abortion. Among other things, he has attacked the Trump administration for seeking to cut off federal funds to Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortion.

“This fight is about equality and saying once and for all that women’s rights are not negotiable, they cannot and they will not be violated,” Markey said Thursday, according to State House News Service. “We will fight to make sure that women are given all of the protection to which they are entitled. We know that the forces of sexism and discrimination will not back down from enacting their anti-freedom agenda, but I also know that we will not back down from fighting.”

State House News Service reported that when Markey was asked Thursday how he would distinguish his approach to abortion from that of his challengers (Liss-Riordan, Steve Pemberton, and Allen Waters), Markey responded:

“I’ve been there. … I’ve waged this fight. I’ve stood with them. NARAL and all of the women’s groups that have been resisting Donald Trump and his allies, and they know that they can trust me to stand with them, no matter how hard the fight gets.”