Abortion Bill Returned to Baker, Setting Up Potential Veto Showdown

SHNS

Abortion Bill Returned to Baker, Setting Up Potential Veto Showdown
A bill expanding abortion access in Massachusetts is back on Gov. Charlie Baker's desk after both the House and Senate rejected his proposed changes and doubled down on their original language, setting up a potential veto showdown. The House voted 107-50 on Tuesday to re-enact legislation (H 5179) that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to access abortions without a parent or judge's consent, permit the procedure after 24 weeks of pregnancy in some cases, and codify abortion rights in state law. Shortly afterward, the Senate re-enacted the bill on an unrecorded voice vote and sent it to Baker. The Senate voted 32-8 on Friday to reject Baker's amendment in an earlier step in the process. The Republican governor must now decide whether to sign the bill or veto it over concerns he had with several sections, which would force Democrats to push for a potentially narrow override vote. Baker said he supported several sections, but raised concerns with lowering the age at which individuals no longer need parental or judicial agreement to acquire an abortion and with the specific language surrounding abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. He returned the original proposal, included as part of the fiscal year 2021 budget, to the Legislature with an amendment changing those two provisions, but both branches denied his suggestion and stuck to their version. Democrats would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to enact the bill, based on legislation known as the ROE Act, over Baker's veto. The 107-50 House vote clears that margin by only two votes based on the chamber's current membership of 158. - Chris Lisinski/SHNS

-END-
12/22/2020