On Tuesday, the Massachusetts State Senate voted to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R-Mass.) veto of the ROE Act (H.5179), codifying Roe v. Wade (1973) into state law and lowering the age of consent for abortion from 18 to 16. Baker vetoed the bill on Christmas Eve because it lowered the age of consent for abortion. The State House overrode his veto on Monday.
Baker, who is pro-choice, said he “strongly” supports a woman’s right to abortion. “However, I cannot support the sections of this proposal that expand the availability of later term abortions and permit minors age 16 and 17 to get an abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian,” the governor wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
The law eliminates the 24-hour waiting period for abortion, changes the judicial bypass process to make abortions more accessible to minors who cannot obtain parental consent, and allows abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the baby would not survive after birth. Baker said he supported these provisions.
However, the law also allows 16- and 17-year-old girls to get abortions without their parents’ consent and makes abortion after 24 weeks legal “if it is necessary, in the best medical judgment of the physician, to preserve the patient’s physical or mental health.” Pro-life activists have warned that this amounts to a blank check for abortion, as some doctors will claim that elective abortion is necessary for a woman’s mental health.
“This dangerous new law allows for late-term abortion on-demand across Massachusetts, and secret abortions for minor girls as young as 16,” Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) President Marjorie Danenfelser said in a statement after the legislature overrode Baker’s veto. “Governor Baker is pro-choice, but this legislation was too much for him to stomach: his veto exemplifies just how extreme it is.”
“The actions taken by Democrats to ram through this legislation are a reflection of just how extreme the party has become on abortion. Led by Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ agenda for the entire nation is reflected in this bill: abortion on-demand, up until the moment of birth,” Dannenfelser argued.
Last year, SBA List and the Tarrance Group released polling showing that most Massachusetts voters oppose the extreme policies in this law. Sixty-two percent of Massachusetts voters said they oppose allowing more late-term abortions, while only 38 percent support allowing late-term abortions. Even 49 percent of Democratic voters opposed expanding access to late-term abortion.
Similarly, 62 percent of Massachusetts voters said they support laws requiring permission from a parent before a minor girl can get an abortion. Only 38 percent said they oppose this limitation. Even most Democrats (55 percent), pro-choice voters (52 percent), and women (60 percent) support parental consent requirements.
Democrats have pushed radical abortion bills into law partially out of fear that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority would overturn Roe v. Wade (1973). In January 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) signed a radical abortion law that stripped protections from wanted babies and expanded abortion in ways that 79 percent of New York voters say they oppose.
After Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Democrats and abortion activists have grown even more anxious. The override of Baker’s veto shows just how anxious they have become.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.