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THE attorney general has the second most powerful job in the state. For voters demanding changes up on Beacon Hill, the next attorney general will be in a pretty good position to deliver.
The next attorney general will be a new one; incumbent James M. Shannon lost in the Democratic primary. The candidate that won that primary--Middlesex County district attorney L. Scott Harshbarger '64--is our choice for attorney general.
As a prosecutor, Harshbarger compiled an impeccable record. Along the way, he has led his profession in areas such as the prosecution of domestic violence and child abuse and in advocating counseling programs in addition to law enforcement to help reduce crime.
Before serving as district attorney, Harshbarger was general counsel to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, making him no stranger to the problems of corruption in government. And the attorney general's office is familiar turf as well--Harshbarger was chief of the Public Protection Bureau there in the mid-1970s.
DURING the campaign, Harshbarger released his "Action Plan," an ambitious program for dealing with problems ranging from civil rights to domestic violence to the environment--and a host of other issues in between. It's a specific, workable plan--a great one if it can be implemented at no extra cost (as Harshbarger claims but his opponent disputes). In contrast, Republican William C. Sawyer '51 has offered few specifics.
We endorse Harshbarger with one serious reservation, however. As district attorney for Middlesex County, Harshbarger prosecuted a pregnant woman for homicide who, driving drunk, got into an accident which destroyed her fetus. It was a groundbreaking case, one that has already been cited in other contexts to justify turning the "rights" of a fetus against a pregnant woman. The case--if it had been successful--would have set a dangerous precedent that, for example, might be used to justify jailing women who abuse substances during pregnancy.
As attorney general, Harshbarger should stick to defending present human lives, and not creating precedents that can be used against them.
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