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Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

State of the Union: Is abortion bad only when it targets disabled children?

Stand With Planned Parenthood Rally In Boston
Planned Parenthood rally in Boston. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

At a Massachusetts city council meeting last week, Michael Hugo, head of the Framingham Democratic Committee, argued the city should ban pro-life pregnancy centers, since they might encourage mothers not to abort children with disabilities who could become financial burdens to the city.

"Our fear is that if an unqualified sonographer misdiagnoses a heart defect, an organ defect, spina bifida, or an encephalopathic defect, that becomes a very local issue because our school budget will have to absorb the cost of a child in special education, supplying lots and lots of special services to children, who were born with the defect," Hugo said, adding he was "speaking on behalf of the Framingham Democratic Committee."


Fox News reports that Hugo sent a version of his statement to fellow Democrats in advance, in which he asked whether the state would "cover the medical costs for a fetus that had sound medical reason to be terminated," "the costs of special education for a [D]own [S]yndrome affected child," and "the extraordinary medical expense of a child with an atrial septal defect?"

Others at the meeting, including other Democratic committee members, denounced Hugo's remarks. Democratic committee member Pat Dunne said Hugo had gone "off the rails" and was "casting a bit too wide."

"We’re not talking about eliminating special education students and the like," he said. "We’re talking about getting out good information to the people in Framingham."

But the Framingham Democrats are "talking about eliminating special education students." If they oppose crisis pregnancy centers on the grounds that they don't give "good information"—progressive-speak for the fact that these centers don't counsel mothers to abort their children—they effectively support a mother's right to kill her unborn disabled child. Supporting abortion in general permits the possibility that mothers will choose, for any number of reasons, to kill their unborn disabled children. How much "better" is that than Hugo's belief that they should be killed to balance the city's budget?

Another point: Hugo's comments so obviously implicated the value of people with disabilities that he was denounced by members of both parties in Massachusetts, and rightly so. But would it have been "better" if he had defended banning crisis pregnancy centers on the grounds that abortion is good for women's long-term earnings potential? Is abortion bad when children are explicitly targeted for being disabled, but not when they are targeted for being inconvenient or impediments to women's career ambitions? How much worse, really, is Hugo's belief than that of his colleagues?