Massachusetts bishops oppose late-term abortion bill

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts, released a statement on July 13 voicing opposition to two bills, House Bill 4954 and Senate Bill 2996, which would expand the state's already liberal abortion laws to make more late-term abortions available.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed their version of the bill at the end of June, and the Senate passed their version on July 13, the same day the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) published a statement explaining their stance.

"A fundamental teaching of the Catholic faith is that an unborn child is a human person with the inalienable right to life and this life must be protected from conception to birth. It is in this light that the Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts have always strongly opposed abortion and all legislative efforts to expand the practice," the MCC said in their statement.

They called attention to Section 10 in House Bill 4954, which would allow abortions after 24 weveks gestation in cases of "severe" fetal anomalies. Current law only allows abortion at that stage for "lethal" fetal anomalies, or when a doctor deems it necessary to protect the mother's life, physical health, or mental health.

The MCC criticized this "undefined terminology" regarding the word "severe," saying it would make abortions possible at any point in pregnancy.

"If adopted, late term abortions would become widely available, further expanding an already deeply troubling section of Massachusetts law. Specifically, by adding the word 'severe' into existing law, abortions would be allowed based upon any physician's own determination of what condition qualifies as 'severe," they said.

They urged the legislature and Governor Charlie Baker not to advance the bills into law.

As of press time, the House and the Senate are in conference about the language used in the bills. The legislative session ends on July 31.

The full text of the MCC's statement can be viewed at