Easthampton City Council passes resolution in support of ROE Act

  • Kae Collins speaks in support of the resolution supporting the ROE Act on Wednesday in front of the Easthampton City Council. GAZETTE STAFF/BERA DUNAU  

  • Nori Coleman speaks in front of the Easthampton City Council in opposition to the ROE Act resolution on Wednesday. GAZETTE STAFF/BERA DUNAU  

Staff Writer
Published: 10/4/2019 4:58:08 PM

EASTHAMPTON — After an extensive public comment period that lasted more than an hour, City Council passed a resolution in support of the passage of the ROE Act by voice vote.

The ROE Act would increase access to abortion in the commonwealth. Among its provisions would be eliminating parental consent laws and allowing abortions after 24 weeks in cases of lethal fetal abnormalities and when a fetus is incapable of sustained life outside of the uterus. ROE also would reinforce the ability to terminate a pregnancy after 24 weeks if a physician determines it is necessary to protect a patient’s physical or mental health. And it would include abortion in Health Safety Net (HSN) coverage, which is available for Massachusetts residents not eligible for Mass Health.

Although resolutions do not have the force of law, they do express the will of the council.

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle was one of the people who spoke in favor of the resolution at the council’s Wednesday meeting. She also attended an event at the State House in Boston with other mayors earlier in the week urging the Legislature to pass the bill.

The mayor said that the bill is not a new step in legislation or out of the norm and asserted that it’s protecting what has been the law of the land since 1973.

“My mother fought this fight,” said LaChapelle.

Kae Collins talked about her experience having an abortion while in an abusive relationship 30 years ago. Although the procedure was legal at the time, it wasn’t financially accessible, she said.

“If the mother of my abuser had not helped me pay for that appointment, I would not have been able to walk away from that situation,” Collins said.

She also said that “anybody that has a uterus has the right to make safe and accessible choices about that uterus.”

Lindsey Rothschild shared how she and her wife, Drea Marks, discovered severe complications affecting their unborn twins in 2010; the couple would have had to travel outside of the state to get an abortion after a certain date, she said.

“The 24 weeks is an arbitrary time period,” she said.  “Families facing devastating diagnoses need to be able, with their doctor’s guidance, to decide what is most compassionate for their family. These are end-of-life decisions.”

She also described meeting other families in the Empty Arms Bereavement Support group who had terminated pregnancies for medical reasons and said she was speaking in their honor.

While most of the people who spoke at the council meeting were in favor of the resolution, a sizable number of people also spoke in opposition to it and to abortion in general.

Jim Berniche noted the council’s passage of the Welcoming Community Trust Ordinance in July and that two weeks ago it passed a resolution condemning the abuse of migrant children in detention centers.

“Abortion is killing an unborn child,” Berniche said.

He also criticized the ROE Act for allowing late-term abortions.

“Is this what a welcoming community morally believes?” he asked.

Nori Coleman, a mother of eight, also voiced her opposition to the resolution and to abortion.

“My uterus doesn’t belong to me,” said Coleman. “It belongs to my children.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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