Maura Healey Kills Born-Alive Protection Ballot Question

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Members of the Massachusetts Republican Party wanted to reinstate a born-alive law that was on the books less than one year ago, but Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says it can’t go on the statewide ballot next year.

The Massachusetts Attorney General on Wednesday rejected a proposed ballot initiative that would guarantee emergency medical care to babies born alive after an attempted abortion, saying the language is too vague to go to the voters.

The decision sets up a possible appeal to the state’s highest court.

Here is the language of the proposed born-alive ballot question:


Be it enacted by the People, and by their authority:

Chapter 111 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding section 110D:    

“Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, if a child is born alive, all reasonable steps, in keeping with good medical practice, shall be taken to preserve the life of the child born alive.”


Supporters of the born-alive ballot question are pressing it now because the state Legislature enacted the ROE Act abortion expansion bill last year over bipartisan opposition and the governor’s veto. Among other things, the new statute eliminated previously existing language from Massachusetts law that guaranteed emergency medical care for babies born alive who survive an attempted abortion.

The legislation did so by repealing Section 12P of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 112, which was in effect until late December 2020. It stated:


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.


While the Attorney General’s office declined to provide a public comment on the decision Wednesday, a spokesman directed NewBostonPost to a letter posted on from the office to Bernadette Lyons (who is leading the initiative effort) explaining why the Attorney General rejected the question. The first paragraph of the letter states: “it does not reflect any policy views the Attorney General may have on the merits of the proposed law.”

The Attorney General says in the letter that the proposed initiative is not in “proper form for submission to the people” because its “provisions are so ambiguous that it is impossible to determine, or inform potential voters of, the proposed law’s meaning and effect.”

The letter also says “the proposed law does not define ‘a child born alive’ or what is required to ‘preserve the life of a child born alive,’ nor does it specify what ‘reasonable steps’ must be taken or who ‘shall’ take them.”

Supporters of the born-alive initiative did not immediately provide comment when contacted by NewBostonPost earlier this afternoon.

The news of the Attorney General’s rejection of the born-alive initiative on Wednesday, September 1 broke a couple of hours after Healey lambasted the state of Texas after a ban on abortions after the six-week mark in pregnancy went into effect there.

Healey tweeted:  “Texas’ radical new abortion ban forces powerless patients to carry pregnancies, regardless of rape or incest, or have their doctors & families threatened with legal action. We will fight this latest effort to overturn Roe v. Wade & stand up for freedom, privacy, and basic rights.”

Healey supports legal and publicly funded abortion. She also supported the ROE Act bill in Massachusetts last year.

Although the Attorney General rejected the born-alive ballot initiative, she has accepted a different pro-life initiative in the past. In 2015, 2017, and 2019, she allowed an initiative to proceed that would have eliminated state-level taxpayer funding of abortion in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. However, the signature collecting efforts fell short in each of those three years.

Bay State taxpayers paid more than $1.5 million on abortion services last year, as NewBostonPost exclusively reported in July 2021.

A spokesman for the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services said in July that the state does not keep track of how many abortions the state pays for.

The letter the Attorney General’s office sent to Bernadette Lyons is available below:

Born Alive Letter


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