December 17, 2020

Massachusetts Gov. Baker Line Vetoes Abortion Expansions in Budget Bill

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R)
UPDATE: The Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate both voted Wednesday to reject all of Gov. Baker's line vetoes. With the margins of those votes, they could override even a full veto from the governor. The story below was written before these developments.

Last Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed off on the state's 2021 budget bill, but he line-vetoed several parts that would have expanded abortion. He took issue with the expansion of late-term abortions and the allowance of 16 and 17-year-olds to obtain abortions without the consent of their parents.

Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) Executive Director Patricia Stewart, while frustrated with parts of the legislation that he accepted, thanked the governor for taking the stance he did. “Although there remains much in this bill with which to take issue, we thank Governor Baker for the common sense recommendation to raise the age for consent to abortion to 18.” 

C.J Williams with MCFL wrote, “He retained the section permitting abortion at and after 24 weeks in cases of so-called ‘fatal fetal abnormalities,’ even though that term is ambiguous and not defined in the bill and opens the door to fatal error.”

Pro-lifers and Gov. Baker have all expressed frustration that this policy was mixed with the state's annual budget. 

“I do share some of the unhappiness that was raised by a number of members of the Republican Party — that putting policy in the budget was something that both leaders in the House and Senate said they would not do,” said Gov. Baker. “And it’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t a major policy initiative that is now in the budget.”

Legislators can either accept the governor's changes, amend the bill further, or attempt to override his veto with a two-thirds vote in both houses. The House of Representatives could override his veto with the same votes the budget had when it passed.

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