Ayanna Pressley Says Late-Term Abortions Are Racial Justice At Virtual ROE Act Bill Rally

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/07/07/ayanna-pressley-says-late-term-abortions-are-racial-justice-at-virtual-roe-act-bill-rally/

Supporters of a proposed abortion expansion bill known as the ROE Act gathered via a Zoom call on Tuesday afternoon to stump for the measure, which has stalled in the Massachusetts Legislature since being filed in January 2019.

Four elected officials spoke. Only two were state legislators.

The officials, all Democrats, are U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Dorchester, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, state Representative Jon Santiago of Boston, and state Representative Tram Nguyen of Andover. None of them called on the Massachusetts Legislature to bring the bill up for a vote before the current two-year legislative session ends July 31.

The legislation (Massachusetts Senate Bill 1209) would eliminate most restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The 24-week cutoff is generally considered to be when a fetus is viable to live outside the womb, although there are cases of babies being born and surviving as early as 21 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill would also eliminate a requirements in current state law that girls 17 and younger get permission from a parent or a judge to have an abortion.

Critics have called the ROE Act proposal an infanticide bill, because it remove a requirement in current state law that a doctor attempt to save the life of a baby born alive after an attempted abortion. 

Pressley serves in Congress, which has no direct involvement with state bill, but she spoke because she is a staunch supporter of it.

“Reproductive justice is linked to racial justice and health care justice and economic justice,” Pressley said. “Low-income folks, LGBTQ+ folks, and black and brown people continue to face disproportionate barriers to comprehensive reproductive care — including abortion care.”

Pressley said if people truly think that black lives matter, then they should support loosening abortion laws. 

“If we really care about black and brown lives, then we have to care about housing justice, and economic justice, and health care and reproductive justice,” Pressley said. “As we advocate for racial justice policies like the ROE Act, recognize that it is vitally important what is in this debate and movement of racial justice. 

“Until a lack of access to health care, immigration status, and our fundamentally flawed legal system no longer stand in the way of reproductive freedom, then justice won’t be reached,” she added.

Black women have a disproportionately high number of abortion in America. Despite being 13 percent of the population, blacks get 28 percent of abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide in 1973, more than 61 million babies have been aborted in the United States. More than 20 million of those babies have been black, according to The Washington Examiner.

Maura Healey, who was the first elected official to speak at the event, expressed a similar sentiment to Pressley — tying abortion to race.

“For too long we’ve erected these medical barriers to black and brown people,” Healey said. “We can’t turn a blind eye to these disparities because it makes us uncomfortable.”

Healey said that passing the ROE Act bill would help more minorities and poor people get late-term abortions and that it’s a vital piece of legislation for the state.

She added that the current paradigm is unacceptable.

“They are forced to either carry their pregnancy to term or to fly elsewhere,” Healey said of pregnant women carrying late-term fetuses.

Healey noted that Colorado is a popular destination for late-term abortions because it has no limit on when they can be performed.

When arguing in favor of the bill, Nguyen brought up a point no one else touched:  that the ROE Act bill would benefit illegal immigrants. She reasoned that some pregnant illegal immigrants might not be able to turn to their parents for permission and might not feel comfortable going before a judge.

“Many of these young people simply cannot obtain consent from a legal guardian for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to having incarcerated guardians, being in state custody, fear of deportation for themselves or their parents, or fear of getting kicked out of their home,” Nguyen said. “These are young people who have no other choice.”

None of the speakers addressed arguments against abortion, including the contention of opponents of abortion that it takes a human life.

The participants in the Zoom call did not field any questions from the press.