Mass. Gov. Vetoes Contraception Bill

A bill that would have expanded access to emergency contraception was vetoed by Massachusetts’ governor on Monday, drawing praise from pro-life constituents and criticism from abortion rights proponents.

State legislators approved a proposed bill that would require hospital emergency rooms to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. The bill would also allow the medication to be sold over the counter.

The medication, called Plan B or the “morning after” pill, is different from RU-486. The pill can prevent pregnancies up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

At issue is the process by which the pill prevents pregnancies. The majority of the time, the release of an egg is blocked, thus preventing fertilization. However, the medication may also interfere with the development of a fertilized egg by preventing its attachment to the womb.

“To those who believe that life begins at conception, the morning-after pill can destroy the human life that was created at the moment of fertilization," said Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Romney, who in his 2002 campaign stated that he would support abortion rights despite his personal opposition to abortion, vetoed the bill on Monday.

In his veto letter, Romney stated, “The way this drug works would not only prevent conception – with which I would not have a problem – but it also, in some cases, terminates life after conception.”

He continued, “And therefore, it ceases in that case to be a contraceptive bill. It becomes an abortion bill, and I indicated I wouldn’t change abortion laws, and I won’t violate that promise.”

Romney later stated in an opinion article, “I am prolife. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice, except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view.”

Most pro-life groups applauded Romney’s veto and criticism of Roe v. Wade. Others, however, including abortion rights and some pro-life groups, cast doubt on the sincerity of Romney’s pro-life stance.

Critics pointed to statements made by Romney when he ran for office in 2002, proclaiming his support for expanded access to emergency contraception and the protection of a woman’s right to choose. They suggested that Romney’s actions were motivated by his political aspirations rather than his concern for women’s health.

Romney explained that his change of heart was a result of the recent debates over embryonic stem cell research.

“In considering the issue of embryo cloning and embryo farming, I saw where the harsh logic of abortion can lead – to the view of innocent new life as nothing more than research material or commodity,” said Romney. “I have also observed the bitterness and fierce anger that still linger 32 years after Roe v. Wade.”

The bill is still expected to become law. Both the House and the Senate approved the bill with enough votes to override the governor’s veto. Legislators plan to attempt an override, although they have not specified when they will hold the vote.