Friday, January 1, 2010

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away... Plus what you need to know about abortion funding in Massachusetts


We have good news! Melissa Vieira, who does our book keeping, has been in the hospital for a month trying to extend the time before her little Grace is born. Grace is now at 32 ½ weeks and staying put! Melissa is the daughter of Dick Carey, our first MCFL Executive Director.

Kathy Healy and Charlie Doyle both died last month. They were pro-life heroes! Part of the story of their contributions to the pro-life movement is the story of abortion funding in this state.

There have been many questions about state funding of abortion in the wake of the Stupak amendment. It is time to review the situation in Massachusetts. You will be amazed at the pivotal roles Kathy and Charlie played in the situation.

In the summer of 1976, the National Right to Life Convention was held in Boston. In recognition of the Bicentennial, it was a most splendid event. Congressman Henry Hyde was here. At Faneuil Hall (fittingly), he announced that he would file the Hyde Amendment. As you know, it passed, was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, and is still mostly in effect, although it must be renewed in each session of Congress. That meant that federal funds would not be used to pay for Medicaid abortions, but state money would still be used.

State Representatives Charlie Doyle of West Roxbury and Ray Flynn of South Boston filed the Doyle Flynn Bill, designed to cut off state funding of abortion just as the Hyde amendment had cut off federal funding. Passage was a battle royal, with the entire state budget being held up and gubernatorial vetoes. During this time, Charlie was a real leader at the State House. Kathy was President of Mass. Citizens - eminently effective, wise, and hard-working.

Finally, when Ed King was elected, we had a governor willing (and eager) to sign the bill, which he did in May of 1979. Of course, the pro-abortion forces went right into court. Eventually the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that, even though the US Constitution did not require abortion funding, the Massachusetts Constitution did. A state Constitution can offer more rights, but not fewer, than the Federal Constitution. Unfortunately, the right here is the right to use tax-payer money to pay for abortion. Very few states fund abortion - most of them, like Massachusetts, under court order.

The only way to overturn an SJC ruling is a Constitutional Amendment, which we attempted in 1986. The amendment said that the constitution did not require abortion funding. In spite of the difficult wording of the amendment; the malicious media, which claimed it would outlaw all abortions; the huge disparity in funds; and polls showing support for the amendment at 29%, the amendment garnered 42% of the vote because of the herculean work of pro-life people across the state, led by Kathy who chaired the effort.

Kathy and Charlie contributed in so many other ways to all efforts to save lives. With the health care debate raging, it is fitting to remember what they did to try to save us from paying for abortions. I envision Henry Hyde's little ones already welcoming them both.

Anne Fox

MCFL | 529 Main Street | Boston | MA | 02129

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