Gag rule impacts Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, we view abortion rights as settled law, though acknowledging that there are still pockets of deep opposition.
The debate over abortion rights rarely rises to an issue in federal or local races here because state law is so firm on a woman’s right to choose that a vocal opponent rarely has a chance at victory. Watching restrictions play out in other states such as Iowa or Mississippi has little impact on what happens here.
But a move set to be announced Friday by the Trump administration could have a deep impact here on the ability of women to access information and care in obtaining an abortion as well as receive health care beyond abortion services. President Trump plans to announce a directive that would withhold federal funding from clinics that provide abortion services, referrals, or even information. It is a direct shot at Planned Parenthood and a gift to conservatives who have been pushing for such action to restrict abortions even in states where there is no fervent opposition.
The move has the earmarks of the domestic “gag order” imposed by then-President Reagan that required a physical separation at clinics that offered abortions and referrals between those services and other family planning services. That policy was tossed out after President Clinton assumed office.
The move comes as protests at abortion clinics are on the rise once again, with abortion opponents emboldened by an administration bent on implementing conservative ideals to appease the base. Massachusetts is not immune from those protests as a look on the Planned Parenthood site for the five clinics in the Bay State has a warning to patients that they may face protests outside the buildings. The move will also give some boost to right-wing candidates here such as Scott Lively and ensure that the order and the issue will become a part of this year’s statewide campaigns.
Even though abortion is not a hot-button issue here, Massachusetts politicians continue to stand at the front of the fight. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first of more than 200 lawmakers who signed a letter to Trump opposing the funding ban as word began to leak out.
The order doesn’t necessarily mean a clinic would lose funding, only if they don’t “disentangle” themselves from abortion services. Officials at Planned Parenthood say that is a misleading posture because information on abortion, including a woman’s health, is important to a full spectrum of sexual health services.
More than 45 years after the Supreme Court said women had a constitutional right to make their own choice in pregnancies, the debate is far from settled.
Senate Republican leader Bruce Tarr leads the charge for earmarks in the state budget. (Gloucester Times)
Julie Burros, Boston’s first chief of arts and culture, is leaving after three-and-a-half years on the job for a post in Pennsylvania. (Boston Globe)
Framingham city councilors who have battled Mayor Yvonne Spicer over her budget slashed her staff funding and eliminated three proposed positions while also shifting funds to give homeowners tax relief. (MetroWest Daily News)
Herald editorial page editor Tom Shattuck pens a column ripping the media for distorting President Trump’s “animals” comment about immigrants.
A Nova Scotia tribe is claiming lineage to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe but the Cape Cod Native Americans are shunning them. (Cape Cod Times)
At a debate between the two candidates vying in the Democratic primary race for governor, Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie focused their attacks on Gov. Charlie Baker and not each other. (CommonWealth)
Emails obtained under the Public Records Law show how David Capeless orchestrated his succession plan for the Berkshire County district attorney’s office. (CommonWealth)
Sam Meas, who is running against Rep. Rady Mom, failed to obtain a restraining order against Mom. Meas alleged Mom tried to choke him at a party, but other witnesses say the incident was nothing more than a rough handshake. (Lowell Sun)
Talk about income inequality: Kevin Franck says Sen Elizabeth Warren, who has showered state Democratic parties across the country with money from her campaign account, ought to show some love to her beleaguered home state Democratic Party, which claims all of $21,000 in the bank. (Boston Herald)
Looks like hard times in the John Kingston campaign, as the Republican US Senate hopeful trimmed the pay of his field staff, which prompted four of the five staffers to quit. (Boston Globe)
UTEC opened a child-care facility in Lowell so the adults the organization helps can rest easy about their children while they work. The facility also features an industrial kitchen that will be used for training and community events. (Lowell Sun)
The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council says it will no longer host or take part in panels that have only male participants. (Boston Globe)
The Boston Planning & Development Agency signed off on Millennium Partners’ planned 690-foot tower at Winthrop Square. (Boston Globe)
The Worcester School Committee wants to add sports at all of the city’s middle schools. (Telegram & Gazette)
The Lynn School Committee picked the system’s deputy superintendent, Patrick Tutwiler, to be the next superintendent. (Lynn Item)
UMass Amherst completes its purchase of Mount Ida College in Newton. (Boston Globe)
The deal is a classic Boston story — in all the worst ways, says Joan Vennochi. (Boston Globe)
Weymouth officials have put a temporary halt to an alternative education program at the high school so they can improve it, they say, despite protests from students and parents. (Patriot Ledger)
Snow days that forced officials to add make-up classes that extended the school year for a number of communities are cutting into summer education and recreational programs. (Patriot Ledger)
A report from the Century Foundation finds that nearly seven decades after the Supreme Court ordered schools to desegregate, more than one-third of black and Hispanic students attend schools that are more than 90 percent nonwhite and a third of white students attend school that are almost 100 percent white. (U.S. News & World Report)
Neighborhood Health Plan is encouraging doctors to prescribe medication as treatment for drug addiction — and it will start paying physicians to undergo the training needed to do so. (Boston Globe)
Steve Krause says Gov. Charlie Baker just doesn’t get how Lynn needs better connections to Boston to grow and thrive. He slams the governor for canceling the ferry to Boston this summer because of low ridership. “The ferry might not have been much, but it was a start,” he says. (Lynn Item)
Members of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority advisory board worry about the Senate budget’s approach to funding, which sets aside $4 million of the $88 million for RTAs as competitive grants. (Telegram & Gazette)
Bay State Wind, which is vying for a contract for an offshore wind farm, has selected the closed Brayton Point power facility in Somerset as the site of a manufacturing plant to build foundations for the turbines. (Herald News)
Wynn Resorts, after meeting with officials from MGM and Caesars Entertainment to discuss the possible sale of its Everett casino, reportedly decided to hang on to the $2.5 billion project despite an ongoing investigation into whether it should lose its casino license because of alleged sexual misconduct by Steve Wynn. (New York Post) Two more members of the Wynn Resorts board resigned. (MassLive)
Margaret Monsell has good news and bad news for casino job hunters. (CommonWealth)
The NCAA is dropping its ban on holding championship events in places that allow betting on individual games. (Boston Globe)
Rachelle Bond, the mother of Bella Bond, whose body washed up on a Boston Harbor island beach, violated the terms of her probation by using marijuana and cocaine. (Telegram & Gazette)
A Lawrence man and his wife were arrested and accused in a bizarre case of rape and enticement of a 13-year-old girl. (Eagle-Tribune)
Testimony begins in the trial of a former dean at Boston’s English High School, who is accused of running a drug operation on the side and shooting a student in a flap over slumping drug sales. (Boston Globe)MEDIA
The battle going on between CBS CEO Les Moonves and Newton native Shari Redstone, majority owner of the network’s parent Viacom, over a merger of the two corporate partners has spilled into public view. (New York Times)