Massachusetts expands late-term abortion rights, gives doctors discretion on saving babies born alive during abortion
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Massachusetts House and Senate lawmakers approved a highly controversial bill Tuesday, substantially expanding access to late-term abortions and removing a law mandating doctors to try and save babies born alive during abortions. The H.B. 5179 bill also lowers the age at which young women can have an abortion without parental consent from 18 to 16.
A key element of the new law is that abortions may be carried out after 24 weeks “if it is necessary, in the best medical judgment of the physician, to preserve the patient’s physical or mental health.” Critics are concerned such generalized language has greatly lowered the bar for accessing late-term abortions. The bill also allows for late-term abortions in cases of “lethal fetal anomaly” or if the “fetus is incompatible with sustained life.”
Moreover, whereas doctors were previously mandated to use try and save a baby born alive during an abortion, the new law leaves it to the physician to “take appropriate steps, in keeping with good medical practice and consistent with the procedure being used, to preserve the life and health of a live birth and the patient.” The bill provides that abortions must be carried out in a facility where “life-supporting equipment” is available, but does not require the physician to use the equipment.
The bill lowers the age of consent for an abortion to 16, saying: “If a patient is less than 16 years of age and has not married, an abortion shall not be performed unless the physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or nurse-midwife first obtains both the consent of the patient and that of 1 of the patient’s parents or guardians.”
Overriding the veto of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, the Democrat-controlled state Senate voted 32-8 in favor of the H.B. 5179 bill on Tuesday. The Democrat-controlled state House had approved the bill by 107-46 on Monday.
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