IN JULY the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a bill restricting state funding for abortions, leaving poor women without the freedom to decide whether or not they would like to have abortions. The bill, which was sponsored by state representatives Ray Flynn and Charles Doyle, is damaging and reprehensible because it places an economic constraint on a private and moral decision.
The basis for the new law was laid in the spring of 1977 when the Supreme Court held that states need not supply Medicaid funds to women who want abortions. Since then almost 35 states have passed laws similar to Massachusetts's.
However, three states have successfully overturned these laws and abortions can be performed with Medicaid funding if a doctor can testify that health would be endangered by having a baby. Proabortion groups in Massachusetts will go to court on Oct. 6 in an attempt to make a similar point.
Poor women have been able to continue using Medicaid funds to pay for their abortions since the first week of September, when the Massachusetts Organization for the Repeal of Anti-Abortion Laws (MORAL) got a temporary injunction on the Massachusetts bill, and MORAL is hopeful that it will be able to completely overturn the Doyle-Flynn measure in October.
Because the abortion issue presents controversial moral questions, we feel that the decision is best left up to the individual, as the Supreme Court first ruled in 1975. Those who have moral objections to the act of abortion have every right to ask that their tax money not be used by Medicaid in this way.
But we do not feel that the state has the right to determine that wealthy women should be the only ones entitled to decide whether or not they need an abortion. We hope that this irresponsible law will soon be overturned and poor women will again be given the right to choose.