A Massachusetts pro-life group that insists taxpayers should have the right to opt out of paying for publicly-funded abortion has proposed a new legislation that would allow this to happen.
Massachusetts Citizens for Life proposed a legislation Tuesday that would allow taxpayers to choose to have state taxes which pays for family planning services for low-income women directed instead to a public information campaign for the Baby Safe Haven law. The Baby Safe Haven law allows parents to drop off unwanted newborns at police or fire stations and hospitals.
MCFL President Anne Fox praises the bill, stating that it would permit more state citizens to exercise their moral conscience.
“If someone feels abortion kills innocent human beings, [he or she] should not have to pay for it,” argued Fox.
But supporters of the health care law have argued that no tax payer money goes to funding abortion by pointing to the Hyde Amendment. The 1976 amendment prohibits the use of federal fund for abortion through Medicaid except in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is at risk.
In terms of Massachusetts, the state does provide subsidies for abortion and abortion referrals. Information from the state’s Health and Human Services shows that family planning providers accept payment from Massachusetts’ Medicaid program, MassHealth.
These family planning providers offer breast and prostate cancer screenings, sexually transmitted disease tests and vaccinations. They also provide referrals for abortions.
Commonwealth Care, a product of the state-funded Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, allows for a recipient to have an abortion at $50 co-pay.
MCFL President Anne Fox pointed out that Massachusetts does not inform the legislators or tax payers exactly how much state money actually goes towards abortions. The passage of the Taxpayer Option on Abortion Services Bill would push the state to report to the Massachusetts general court in order that a calculation can be made on just how much each taxpayer pays to abortion servers.
“The state should disclose to the legislature how much they spend on abortion,” stated Fox.
Andrea Miller, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, objects to the proposed legislation, arguing that taxpayers cannot pick and choose what they want to pay for.
"You don’t have an opportunity to opt out of a whole host of things that you might oppose," she told the Boston Herald.
Fox retorted that the measure is not meant to skirt paying taxes, but rather to redirect funds to another project that is in line with pro-lifers’ beliefs. The Safe Haven Law, said Fox, is a worthy cause that is currently underfunded.
“The state has the signs, but it hasn’t allocated any funds [to the project],” she revealed.
The Taxpayer Option on Abortion Services Bill is just one of five bills the MCFL has written for the 2011 session. The bills have all been sponsored and co-sponsored by state delegates. The bill now will enter committee where lawmakers will consider whether or not they should be brought to the General Court floor.
Massachusetts state residents have the right to submit proposed legislation. But Fox acknowledged that not many of these bills “come out of committee.” However, she and Massachusetts pro-lifers have high hopes for the taxpayer bill because it will be considered by a different committee than all the other MCFL bills.