Deb Friedman: Easthampton City Council’s ‘betrayal’


Published: 8/14/2023 1:18:09 PM

Why did Easthampton City Council pass an ordinance to support “safe and fair access to legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare services” when the state already has such a policy? Answer: They passed the ordinance despite the state’s already having such a policy because they knew that the rights and safety of women and LGBTQ individuals would in fact be that much better protected if a local ordinance were in place.

After Mayor Nicole LaChapelle vetoed it, the ordinance was expected to pass with an override vote. Instead, the City Council’s President Homar Gomez joined the mayor in conceding away our rights in the face of the fear tactics anti-abortion forces are using to keep crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) going in all states, even those where abortion is still legal. (These clinics now outnumber abortion clinics in Massachusetts more than 3 to 1.)

CPCs have national implications and every defeat of a local ordinance that would do nothing more than make sure CPCs were operating legally (in all cases) is a defeat of our rights, a threat to our safety, and a significant boost to the powers that would make Massachusetts an abortion sanctuary state in name only. From what I can tell, someone has been “advising” the mayor and the councilors that the ordinance would have left the city open to lawsuits. After all, those clinics are only exercising their freedom of speech, don’t you know! (And where else have we heard that lately?) Well, guess what, they will challenge these ordinances, they will lose (the state policy is in place and the ordinance itself had been legally vetted), and yes it will still cost money to fight them. But if the rights of citizens aren’t protected by government at all levels, game over. Your silence will never protect you but your betrayal will not be forgotten.

Deb Friedman

Easthampton

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