Two GOP State Reps Offer Born-Alive Amendment To Massachusetts Abortion Legislation

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Two Republican members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives filed an amendment on Tuesday designed to make sure that babies who are born alive following an attempted abortion have guaranteed access to lifesaving medical treatment.

State Representative Alison Sullivan (R-Abington), and state Representative Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) filed the born-alive amendment to Budget Amendment 759, which was filed as an abortion-expansion amendment to the state budget bill.

The born-alive amendment put forth by the two Republicans is titled “Preservation of medical services for babies born alive.” It states:  “If an abortion is performed pursuant to section 12N, the facility where the abortion is performed shall maintain life-supporting equipment, as defined by the department of public health, the physician performing the abortion must use life saving measures to preserve the life and health of a live birth and the patient.”

Lombardo, who is pro-life, said the amendment is something that everyone should support.

“I don’t know how anyone could possibly remain opposed to a law requiring that newborns receive lifesaving medical care,” Lombardo said, according to a press release from the Massachusetts Republican Party. “But I look forward to hearing the Democrats’ explanation.”

The abortion-expansion amendment to the budget bill would expand the definition of legal abortion in Massachusetts after 24 weeks to include cases where “an abortion is warranted because of a lethal fetal anomaly incompatible with sustained life outside the uterus.” Current state law allows for abortion after 24 weeks “to preserve the patient’s physical or mental health.”

The abortion-expansion amendment would lower the age of girls needing consent from a parent or a judge to get an abortion from 17 and younger (which is current law) to 15 and younger.

The abortion-expansion amendment also would eliminate language from existing Massachusetts law that requires doctors to attempt to save the life of a baby born alive after an attempted abortion. The legislation would repeal Section 12P of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 112, which states:

Section 12P. If an abortion is performed pursuant to section twelve M, the physician performing the abortion shall take all reasonable steps, both during and subsequent to the abortion, in keeping with good medical practice, consistent with the procedure being used, to preserve the life and health of the aborted child. Such steps shall include the presence of life-supporting equipment, as defined by the department of public health, in the room where the abortion is to be performed.

Although the abortion legislation is not a monetary issue, Democrats on Beacon Hill tacked the abortion language onto the state budget bill as an amendment. It drew opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike but passed 108-49.

The only Republican to support the abortion-expansion amendment was state Representative James Kelcourse (R-Amesbury), although a former Republican, state Representative Susannah Whipps (an independent from Athol), also voted for it.

The state’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker, neither signed nor vetoed the abortion expansion amendment. Instead, he returned the amendment with a letter seeking changes. Baker wants to keep existing law that requires parental and judicial consent for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds seeking an abortion.

Baker did not address the objection of opponents to the abortion expansion legislation concerning babies born alive after an attempted abortion.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo told GBH News that he intends to reject Baker’s amendment and override the veto. That could happen this week. The House has a formal session scheduled for Thursday, December 17.

Sullivan, who is pro-life, offered praise for Baker’s decision to return the abortion expansion amendment with proposed changes.

“I applaud Gov. Baker for expressing his opposition to certain provisions within the (Section 40) budget amendment and returning it to the Legislature,” Sullivan said, according to the GOP press release. “I share Gov. Baker’s objections and concerns with allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to get an abortion without parental or guardian participation.

“Additionally, it is unconscionable for any society to permit by way of late-term abortions the killing of a child moments before or after he or she is delivered,” she added.