GOP Candidate For Governor of Massachusetts Says He Wouldn’t Change Abortion Law

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Where do the two Republican candidates for governor in Massachusetts stand on abortion now that the U.S. Supreme Court may possibly jettison Roe v. Wade?

The candidates, Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty and former Whitman state representative Geoff Diehl, both say they oppose abortion. But they had varying reactions to news of a possibly forthcoming decision kicking abortion policy back to the states.

Doughty said he wouldn’t change existing abortion laws if elected governor.

“The right to abortion is enshrined in the Massachusetts constitution,” Doughty told in a statement on Tuesday, May 3. “I am running to focus on making our state more affordable for our citizens and our job creators. As Governor I will not seek any changes to our state’s abortion laws.”

Diehl and his unofficial running mate, former state representative Leah Cole Allen (R-Peabody), who is running for lieutenant governor, put out a statement affirming what they called “the need to protect human life wherever and whenever possible.”

A leaked draft decision reportedly supported by a majority of the court — but not yet final — would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, and allow states to determine their own policies on abortion, including whether to make it illegal.

In Massachusetts, that means abortion policy wouldn’t change.

The Massachusetts Constitution does not mention abortion. But in 1981, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared abortion a “fundamental right, “saying that the Declaration of Rights in the state constitution “affords a greater degree of protection to a woman’s right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy by abortion than does the Federal Constitution …” (The case called Moe v. Secretary of Administration and Finance.)

The state court decision also required that abortion be publicly funded if the state also provided publicly funded services for childbirth. The decision overturned the state legislature’s 1979 Doyle-Flynn Amendment, which for a while prohibited the state government from paying for abortions.

As a result of the state court decision 40 years ago, abortion would remain legal and publicly funded in Massachusetts even if Roe v. Wade is overturned. In addition, state legislators in December 2020 expanded abortion access, enacting a bill called the ROE Act, which lowered the age when a girl needs consent for an abortion from 17 to 15; added explicit language to state law allowing abortions after 24 weeks in the case of a diagnosis of a fatal condition in a fetus; and removed a previously existing provision in state law that required physicians to try to save the life of a baby born alive after an attempted abortion.

So where do the two GOP candidates say they are on abortion?

Earlier in the year, Doughty told NewBostonPost that he is pro-life with exceptions, like cases of rape and incest.

He also said that he would support policies that reduce the number of abortions that occur.

“It’s encouraging that it has fallen in half over time,” Doughty told NewBostonPost in January, referring to the abortion rate. “We’re going in the right direction as a society and as a people. And anything I can do to keep us moving in that right direction. I can think of fewer things that are a lose-lose-lose than abortion.”

Diehl also told NewBostonPost that he is pro-life last year.

“We want to make sure those babies are taken care of and given a chance at life,” Diehl said in July 2021.

“My goal is to make sure that as governor we do our best to protect life where we can,” he added. “That’s the hope going forward.”

On Tuesday, May 3, Diehl and Allen put out a statement commenting on the anti-Roe draft decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. It says:


We do not form core policy decisions based on leaked first drafts of Supreme Court opinions. Rather, we form them based on deeply-held personal beliefs and a commitment to Constitutional rule of law.

Thus, today, we join together as we have throughout our campaigns in our respect for the dignity of human life and our belief that decisions on non-federal issues are best left to the states. As the Framers of our government recognized, state government is where the appropriate balance on important issues can be most appropriately determined.

We both believe in and reaffirm the need to protect human life wherever and whenever possible. We also reaffirm our concurrence with Governor Baker’s veto of the so-called “Roe Act” last year (a state law which expands access to late-term abortions), recognizing that extreme bill as a radical move too far by state legislators here in our state. We have both been consistent in these positions throughout our campaigns and our time in public office, and we remain solid in our beliefs now.

To the extent there is credibility to current reports sourced to the Supreme Court, we will await the Court’s formal decision later this Spring and assess it at that time.


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