Light on Beacon Hill: MCFL files life-affirming bills

Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle, we’d have tremendous light. - Sister Thea Bowman

When the sun goes down this afternoon, look out your window, in the direction of Beacon Hill, and you may well see a slight yet undeniable glow coming from the State House. Last month, the previous legislative session ended with passage of the ROE Act. Though that amendment to the state budget was somewhat diluted from its original because of your admirable and resilient advocacy, a dark shadow nonetheless hovered. 

But I’m pleased to let you know about five new pieces of legislation filed Friday on our behalf—each a point of light, sponsored by state representatives who simply, bravely, stepped up and lit a match. We are humbled by and grateful for their sponsorship of these bills and look forward to working with them and future cosponsors in the months ahead.  

I’ve included summaries and respective sponsors of each draft here. You can read the full text of these bills on our website. Please note that, though the bill docket numbers are included below, they will change in several weeks, once the bills are assigned to committees.

Rep. David DeCoste (R, 5th Plymouth District)

An Act relative to unborn victims of violence -- HD2658

State Representative David F. DeCoste filed this bill, whose purpose is to recognize the unborn child at any stage of prenatal development as a victim of violent crime. Currently, Massachusetts law affords partial coverage for unborn victims after viability in cases of vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter. It does not recognize the unborn child killed at an earlier state of prenatal development. This bill seeks to cure this omission by identifying an unborn child at any state of prenatal growth as a victim in cases of murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault, battery, and assault and battery.

An Act to establish criteria to assess the maturity of a minor seeking an abortion, record keeping -- HD 2657

By law in Massachusetts, a minor under age 16, who seeks an abortion, must have the consent of one parent or go to court to obtain a judge’s consent. In ruling on the minor’s request, the judge is required to assess the minor’s maturity, but the law does not provide the judge with any guidance on how to make that determination. To address this deficiency, Rep. DeCoste also filed HD 2657, which mandates criteria for the judge to apply in measuring the maturity of a minor in this situation. The bill also requires the judge to maintain a record of the number of abortion requests the judge rules on, the number that are granted or denied, the age of the minor making the request, and to report these statistics annually to the Commissioner of Public Health. The Commissioner must then compile and report this data annually to the general court.

Rep. Joseph McKenna (R, 18th Worcester District)

An Act relative to instruction in pregnancy and prenatal care -- HD 4018

This bill, filed by State Representative Joseph McKenna, would require seventh, eighth, or ninth grade students to be taught the correct, scientific facts about human prenatal development. The goal of this instruction is to help them recognize the humanity of the unborn child and prepare them for the responsibilities of future parenthood. An understanding of the humanity of the unborn child is likely to reduce the number of abortions, and the study of human development completes a student’s understanding of human biology. Studies have shown that ignorance of prenatal development contributes to insufficient prenatal care, poor nutrition, and continued use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, all of which cause severe, adverse physical consequences for the developing child.

An Act relative to taxation (taxpayer conscience protection) -- HD 4023

Did you know that Massachusetts uses a portion of your income taxes to pay for abortions? What’s more, taxpayers who oppose abortion have no way to prevent their taxes from funding a medical procedure they consider immoral and abhorrent. The Taxpayer Conscience Protection Act, also filed by Rep. McKenna, addresses this inequity by allowing taxpayers to redirect the portion of their tax money that would pay for abortions to, instead, fund implementation of the Baby Safe Haven program that allows a desperate parent to surrender an unwanted newborn, legally and anonymously, at a safe location instead of abandoning the child. This program has saved lives and caused a drop in the number of infant exposure deaths since it was enacted in 2004. The bill would not reduce the amount of taxes collected; it just enables abortion opponents to earmark their taxes to fund life-saving and public information efforts.

Rep. Alyson Sullivan (R, 7th Plymouth District)

An Act relative to unborn victims of Down Syndrome -- HD3424  

Since advances in prenatal testing, unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome have been increasingly targeted for abortion at a high rate. A study in 2012 found that two out of three babies with Down syndrome in the United States were aborted. This appalling increase prompted several states to enact laws to protect unborn babies from this discrimination. Bill HD 3424, filed by State Representative Alyson Sullivan, follows this trend, seeking to prohibit an unborn child from being aborted merely based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The bill is modeled after the Ohio antidiscrimination law that is being challenged in an action pending in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S Justice Department filed an amicus brief in January, 2020, supporting the law's constitutionality.

Join me in offering a special thank you to MCFL Executive Director, Pat Stewart, for drafting each of these bills and approaching our friends in the legislature. Pat has seen pro-life victories and defeats over the years. Of this effort she said, “MCFL remains firm in its resolve to continue to fight against the forces aligned against us because we know we are right. The bills filed in the new legislative session open yet another chapter; but it is not the last. It is just the beginning.”


Thank you for your continued partnership. Enjoy your week.


P.S. - As always, we will depend on your light alongside ours as we move forward with each of these initiatives. You’ll learn more in the coming weeks. For now, we welcome your support and your prayers.