Democrat resigns after comments about disabled children's impact on school budget draws backlash

Unsplash/Tim Bish

A Massachusetts Democratic official has resigned from his position as chair of a local Democratic committee after he suggested during public comments at a recent city council meeting that abortion is necessary to offset the cost of providing special education classes and services for children with disabilities.

Michael Hugo, who served as chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee (FDC), issued an apology last Thursday while announcing his resignation. Hugo said he decided to resign after talking with his wife, members of the FDC, and Democrat state Senate President Karen Spilka.

At the Feb. 7 Framingham City Council meeting where Hugo's public comments caused offense, the 11-member council unanimously passed a proclamation to ensure access to abortion for "persons capable of being pregnant" and announced that the city's website would provide a link for residents to file consumer complaints with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office against pro-life pregnancy centers because they do not provide abortions.  

Speaking in favor of the proclamation, Hugo said, “Our fear is that if an unqualified sonographer misdiagnoses a heart defect, an organ defect, spina bifida, that becomes a very local issue because our school budget will have to absorb the cost of a child in special education, supplying lots and lots of special services to children, who were born with the defect.” Hugo added that he was speaking on behalf of the FDC.

The FDC, whose stated mission is to “work for the common good by promoting racial, ethnic, social, and economic equality for the people of Framingham,” announced on March 2 that it had received notice of Hugo’s resignation and announced that Rosamond Hooper-Hamersley and Cesar Stewart-Morales would fill the vacancy.  

At an earlier FDC meeting on Feb. 26, members voted on two motions pertaining to Hugo's comments at the city council meeting. While a motion to "endorse the statement from the FDC Executive Committee repudiating the chair’s remarks" was passed, a second motion to debate his removal as chair failed. 

“I thank the committee members for their recent show of support in defeating a motion to even discuss my removal, thus this is of my own volition,” Hugo wrote. “However, I feel it is what is best for the committee, my loved ones, my emotional and physical health, and our cause and those I serve in my work. While I am stepping down as chair after over a decade of service as an officer, I plan to continue to do the work of the party.” 

He added: “Even though I issued separate apologies to the city council, The Framingham Democratic Committee, and the entire city within hours of the statement, I wish to reiterate that I am sorry for distracting from a major victory for freedom of choice, and for harm to the other-abled community at large.” 

Hugo and the FDC did not respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment.

As the Framingham Source reported last month, Pat Dunne, a former Framingham School Committee member and member of the FDC, who spoke after Hugo, denounced his remarks. 

"I’m a lifetime member of the Democratic Committee, and the person who wanted to represent us went off the rails on a different direction that was never brought before the Democratic Committee," Dunne said. 

"We’re not talking about eliminating special education students and the like. We’re talking about getting out good information to the people in Framingham. And he’s casting a bit too wide for me and that’s why I did want to say something." 

On Feb. 17, the FDC released a statement addressing Hugo's remarks, condemning them as “harmful, misleading and wrong.” 

In a public apology letter written last month, Hugo acknowledged that his comments were “offensive” and “hurtful.” He added that committee members had not reviewed the entirety of his remarks, which were sent before the city council meeting. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follower her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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