Northampton City Council unanimously passes resolution supporting ROE Act

  • Northampton Ward 7 City Councilor Alisa Klein.

Staff Writer
Published: 6/21/2019 1:02:30 PM
Modified: 6/21/2019 1:02:19 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton City Council passed a resolution on second reading Thursday supporting the ROE Act, a bill being considered by the Legislature that would increase access to abortion in Massachusetts, as well as abortion rights nationwide. The unanimous vote of the City Council was met with applause from the audience.

Earlier in the evening, about a dozen people spoke during the public comment period, urging the council to back the resolution. One of three reverends who spoke was Rev. Peter Ives, a former minister at the First Churches of Northampton who now serves as the theologian-in-residence at the Haydenville Congregational Church.

Ives said that he has publicly supported Roe v. Wade since 1973, when the Supreme Court decision established a constitutional right to abortion. 

“I do it in the name of Jesus and the stories in the Bible about Jesus’ love and compassion and support to all the women in need he encountered,” he said.

He also shared that when he and his wife had three young children and “very little income and much uncertainty,” the couple had “an unexpected pregnancy and the need for an abortion.”

“In due time,” he continued, “we came to see that this decision was absolutely the right decision for our family life together.”

He also said that without access to abortion, many women in this country “live in a form of slavery.”

Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, an Episcopal priest, shared that in the 1930s her mother’s mother was a founder of the Iowa-based Maternal Health League, which later became Planned Parenthood.

“I feel as if I’m standing here in the lineage of my grandmother,” she said.

She also noted the Episcopal Church’s position on abortion, which she said teaches that all human life is sacred while also maintaining since 1967, its “unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions about the termination of pregnancy and to act upon them.”

“As a granddaughter of a founder of Planned Parenthood in Iowa, and also as a faithful Christian and an Episcopal priest, I ask you to vote in favor of the ROE Act resolution,” she said.

One of the provisions of the ROE Act would eliminate the parental consent requirement for minors to get an abortion in Massachusetts, a provision that many speakers specifically spoke in favor of on Thursday.

One of those people was Carrie N. Baker, co-president of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts, who said that research shows that parental consent laws do not significantly increase the likelihood that a young person will consult with a parent about an abortion decision.

Ward 7 City Councilor Alisa Klein, a co-sponsor of the resolution, who was unable to vote on it when it passed in first reading, said that she was moved by the public comment and said it is rare for people to come to the second reading of a resolution to speak on it. “That very much happened tonight, so it really is testament to how much people in this community are committed to unfettered access to abortion care.”

She also added that the resolution contains a larger commitment to abortion access on the part of the council.

In addition to calling for the passage of the ROE Act and additional legislation supporting abortion rights on the state and federal level, the resolution notes the laws recently passed in a number of states that restrict or ban abortions, affirms that reproductive healthcare is a fundamental component of overall health, and state’s the council’s “commitment to the protection of abortion rights, reproductive health care rights, and individuals’ rights to make reproductive decisions about their own bodies.”

“We wanted the Northampton City Council to make a broader statement,” she said, referring to the work she did with co-sponsor Ward 4 City Councilor Gina Louise-Sciarra in crafting the resolution. “A broader commitment and a deeper commitment.”

Earlier, she pointed out that attacks on reproductive freedom affect transgender people and gender-nonconforming people as well.

Bera Dunau can be reached at







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