[If] you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. –Ezekiel 33:8
Massachusetts General Law defines abortion as “the knowing destruction of the life of an unborn child.” Further, it defines an “unborn child” as “the individual human life in existence and developing from implantation of the embryo in the uterus until birth.” Now, we can argue about whether that individual human life began at implantation or at conception, but Massachusetts law is clear that the unborn child is a life and not just a “blob of tissue.” Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in Moe vs Secretary of Administration and Finance (1981) decided that taxpayer funds must be used to kill that life if its mother so wishes.
Prior to Moe, the state operated under the Doyle-Flynn Amendment – the state-level equivalent of the federal Hyde Amendment, which has been upheld repeatedly by the US Supreme Court – which prohibited taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions. But in 1981, the SJC took it upon itself to go beyond the federal Roe v. Wade decision and decreed that taxpayer funds must indeed be used to pay for abortions for poor women under the guise of “equal protection.” Why the legally-recognized life in the womb is not also due equal protection of the laws is not clear, but the SJC ruled that since state Medicaid funds were used to pay for legitimate maternity care and other health care for indigent women, Medicaid must also pay for abortions.
As did Roe v. Wade, this decision clearly overstepped the judicial role of interpreting the Massachusetts Constitution and enshrined a policy decision with the weight of a constitutional amendment, thus prohibiting the legislature from even debating the issue. Legally, the only proper response is an actual constitutional amendment that the SJC cannot misinterpret to its own ends. The Alliance to Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortion has taken up the challenge and is currently gathering signatures with the hope of bringing this question to Bay State voters in November 2020.
The amendment as proposed reads “Nothing in this Constitution shall require taxpayer funding for abortions.” Note that it does not make abortion illegal in MA. It only permits the legislature to debate whether taxpayer funds should be used to pay for them.
The amendment process in Massachusetts is extraordinarily difficult. The first step is to gather 64,750 signatures by November, 2017. In actuality, this means we need to gather close to 100,000 signatures because it seems like the Secretary of State’s office looks for any excuse to reject valid signatures. If there is a stray pen mark on a sheet with 25 valid signatures, the entire sheet may be thrown out. So, volunteers – including my wife and I – are being very careful with the signed sheets.
Assuming we get the required signatures, the motion must be approved by 50 members of the state legislature in two consecutive sessions in order to be put on the ballot in 2020 to allow citizens to vote on the amendment. Assuming it passes, Massachusetts will be in line with the federal government and the legislative history of the state in letting the legislature decide whether taxpayer funds will be used to pay to knowingly destroy the life of an unborn child.
There are many ways you can help. Of course, you can volunteer, or donate to the Alliance, and if you’re a registered Massachusetts voter, please sign a petition. And please keep our efforts in your prayers.
Update: Stacy McCain talks about this (and a few other things) here.