Amherst Town Council backs resolution supporting abortion rights 

  • Amherst Town Hall FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2019 1:18:37 PM

AMHERST — Elected officials in Amherst are giving their support to legislation at the state level that will protect and expand abortion rights in Massachusetts, and are also advocating for safe and legal abortion throughout the United States.

The Town Council Monday voted 10-0 in support of the resolution, which was brought forward by District 2 Councilor Patricia DeAngelis. Three councilors were absent.

Amherst joins Northampton, which adopted a similar resolution in June, and Somerville, in endorsing abortion rights.

District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam told her colleagues that it is important to adopt such a resolution.

“We can't have a modern society if women don't have control over their own bodies," Pam said.

The resolution offers support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide, calls out Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri and Louisiana as being states trying to restrict abortion access and expresses concern that the Trump Administration is trying to undermine the ability of women to get abortions, including through last year’s appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Embedded in the resolution is endorsement for legislation in Massachusetts, including “An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access,” also known as the “ROE Act,” which is co-sponsored by state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and “An Act Removing Obstacles and Expanding Access to Women’s Reproductive Health,” which is co-sponsored by state Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst. Comerford and Domb both represent Amherst in the Legislature.

In addition, the resolution supports U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, who represent Massachusetts and have pushed for the “Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2019.” The bill would ensure equal, affordable access to abortion for all women equally, and prohibit political interference with decisions of private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care and require federal health insurance programs. It also supports U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern in co-sponsoring “The Women’s Health Protection Act” that would create federal protections against state restrictions on reproductive health care.

District 5 Councilor Darcy DuMont said the council should not underestimate how the resolution will show state and federal legislators that municipalities and residents are behind them. Two residents at the meeting spoke in favor of the resolution, while no one in attendance spoke against it.

Lynn Morgan of Cherry Lane said it is important to affirm support for safe and legal access to abortion in Massachusetts and nationally. Morgan said pending legislation will fix outdated abortion laws, protect pregnant minors and ensure anyone has access to abortion no matter income, age or insurance. Morgan added that the resolution will help to destigmatize abortion.

Miranda Balkin, a family doctor who lives and works in Amherst, said the decision to continue any pregnancy should be between patient and doctor and restricting abortion access unfairly targets low-income people.

“Abortion is a social justice issue,” Balkin said.

When the resolution was adopted, several people attending the meeting applauded the council’s action.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

 


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