Despite Speaker Robert DeLeo warning House lawmakers off trying to use the annual budget to advance major policy changes, the top Democrat blessed a vote this week on an amendment that would codify abortion rights into state law and make abortions legal after 24 weeks if a doctor has diagnosed a fatal fetal abnormality.
The amendment to the annual budget bill was filed by Rep. Claire Cronin, a Easton Democrat and the co-chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, which faces its own deadline of Thursday to make a recommendation on a bill known as the “ROE Act,” the State House News Service reported.
Cronin filed a version of the ROE Act as amendment 759. It would strengthen abortion access laws in Massachusetts by making abortion explicitly legal in state law, and allowing for abortions after 24 weeks in more than just cases where the life of the mother is in jeopardy.
The amendment also spells out a legal process for young women under the age of 16 who can’t or do not want to get the consent of a parent or guardian to petition a judge for an abortion.
The legislation has been under consideration since the session started in 2019, but gained momentum following the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last month to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.