Andrew Beckwith calls a proposed law in Massachusetts what it is—a prescription for infanticide. Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, explains why this bill would endanger women’s health and allow abortions to occur up to, and even during, delivery.
Beckwith also discusses his institute’s effort to stand against transgender legislation. And he explains a new Massachusetts law that places a counseling ban on licensed mental health professionals, stopping them from helping children feel comfortable in their own bodies. Read the lightly edited transcript below or listen to the podcast:
Virginia Allen: I am joined by Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. Mr. Beckwith, thank you so much for being here.
Andrew Beckwith: Thanks for having me.
Allen: I’m also from the state of Massachusetts. I’m a proud New Englander. But as someone who believes in small government and traditional family values, I shudder at the extreme progressive policies that we’re continually seeing pushed and embraced in the Northeast.
You all are on the front lines of the abortion debate and many other debates in Massachusetts, but I want to take a moment specifically to talk about what you all are doing around the abortion issue.
In states like New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia, we’ve seen legislation passed that allows for abortion up until or even during delivery. Now, a similar bill called the ROE Act is trying to make its way through the Massachusetts state Legislature, and you all are calling that bill the Infanticide Act.
Beckwith: That’s right.
Allen: So why are you all calling this bill the Infanticide Act?
Beckwith: Well, it’s because of what the bill does. I think before I get into those specifics, I want to just put this in the context, as you mentioned, of what happened not only in New York, but then in Virginia, where the governor, who was defending their version of this Infanticide Act on the radio, talked about what would happen if his bill were enacted and you had a baby that was born alive during an abortion.
He said that the doctor would resuscitate the child if necessary, and then a conversation would ensue, I think was the language he used, between the doctor and the mother. But at that point, if you have a live baby outside the mother’s womb, there’s really no conversation to be had unless you’re talking about infanticide.
Under the Infanticide Act in Massachusetts, which is technically titled the ROE Act, [Remove] Obstacles and Expanding Access to Abortion, or the ROE Act, it removes two current requirements under Massachusetts law.
One requirement that it removes, that it eliminates, is that doctors have to at least attempt to save the life of the unborn child during an abortion at 24 weeks or beyond if that wouldn’t threaten the life of the mother. And they also have to have lifesaving equipment on-site available in the event, as the governor of Virginia spoke about, that a child is born alive during an abortion.
The Infanticide Act in Massachusetts eliminates both of those requirements, and there’s no justification for doing so, other than making it easier for abortionists to allow babies that aren’t killed during the abortion, that survive, to then just die. That’s how we get situations like [Kermit] Gosnell and other tragedies.
And you not only have the removing of these requirements, you also have the law changed, if this bill were to pass, so that late-term abortions no longer need to be done in hospitals. They could be done in clinics, again, like the Gosnell clinic.
There’s a financial incentive for the abortion industry to take them out of hospitals, allow them to be done in clinics, and they can be run by Planned Parenthood, and remove the medical equipment requirements as well.
Allen: So we’re talking about dangers not only to the child, but also to the mother?
Beckwith: Absolutely. It’s incredible that people who claim they’re in favor of women’s health care … In fact, at the public hearing on this bill in June, we had nearly 1,000 people there in these bright red “Choose Life” T-shirts that we had printed up along with other pro-life activists in the state. And Planned Parenthood was there with their people; they had pink T-shirts that said “Abortion is Health Care.”
But again, if you’re really concerned about health for women, taking abortions out of hospitals and putting them in clinics, and removing the requirement for certain medical equipment to be on-site, how is that health care?
Allen: Yeah. So where does the bill stand right now in the Massachusetts Legislature?
Beckwith: It’s still in committee. In Massachusetts, you can have a public hearing and then there’s no fixed timeline after that for when the bill has to be voted on, so it could stay in committee. We’re hoping that it will, but we’re keeping our ears to the ground to see if it’s going to come out of committee. But there’s been a lot of talk about it.
The public hearing itself, I think it’s usually when they test the waters, the supporters of the bill, to see what the resistance will be. And it was massive to have 1,000 people there at the State House.
We had a big rally outside beforehand protesting. And then there’s Gardner Auditorium in Massachusetts, holds about 600 people, it’s the main hearing hall, that was filled to capacity. They had a second large overflow room also filled to capacity. They had to open up a third overflow room. That’s rarely, if ever, happened in the State House for a piece of legislation, so there’s massive pushback.
People are just outraged that they would try to pass something like this that really enables infanticide. And that’s not all it does. It also would eliminate the requirement under current law that for an underage woman—a girl under 18—to get an abortion, right now, she has to have the consent of at least one parent. That’s totally eliminated.
They also eliminate the existing reporting requirements for abortions.
Tragically, every year, Massachusetts has had somewhere between 17,000 and 20,000 abortions that we know of recently, in the past several years. That reporting requirement is eliminated. We don’t even know how many more abortions this bill would cause. If it’s passed, we’ll never know, because the reporting requirement is eliminated as well.
Allen: And how are you all working at the Massachusetts Family Institute to try and keep this bill from being passed and becoming law?
Beckwith: One of the main things we do is we educate people about it. There’s 6,000 bills every two-year legislative session that are introduced, and most legislators don’t even know what’s in a lot of them.
Part of our mission is to take bills like this that are of concern to people of faith, who share our family values on the sanctity of life, and really boil it down to the nuts and bolts, so people know what’s in these bills and then they feel empowered to reach out and contact their state reps and state senators and let them know that they oppose this and really question them on why they’re pushing this legislation.
Then we’re also there to do what we’re doing here, which is to talk about it in the media, so there’s a real back-and-forth and not just the one-sided Boston Globe agenda that’s constantly being pushed on everyone.
Allen: Sure. And why is the fight in Massachusetts so important? If this bill passes in Massachusetts, will we see maybe that more states will follow suit?
Beckwith: Possibly. Massachusetts does like to pride itself on being a trendsetter.
I remember when the New York bill was passed, and that was early on in the year, it seemed like it came out of nowhere. The first thing people knew was seeing those pictures of the one World Trade Center lit up in pink, the pink needle, ironically, lit up, and the governor and everyone just clapping and smiling and cheering for an aggressive abortion law. I think that really kind of took people aback.
That’s why there was such a spotlight shined on the Virginia equivalent just a few weeks later, and it’s part of the reason why the governor had to go on air and defend it. Then he admitted what the bill actually did, and it just blew up. Then, of course … His yearbook came out, and the whole thing melted down.
I’m grateful for that because it exposed the issue nationally, and the wheels came off. I think if Virginia had passed it quickly in the wake of New York passing it, you would have seen maybe a domino effect. It’s really stalled out now, and that’s good news.
Allen: Yeah. You all are also on the front lines in Massachusetts of fighting against legislation having to do with parental rights around young people who identify as transgender. Let me ask you first to explain the transgender and parents’ rights conflict that’s happening right now in the state of Massachusetts.
Beckwith: Sure. I think the best way to explain that is to give you a real-world anecdote.
Back in the spring, I got a phone call from some parents whose 15-year-old daughter had a history of mental health issues and had recently begun identifying as male, as a boy. When she went to her next therapist appointment, she told this to the therapist, who then said, “Yes, you are a boy. We’re going to start calling you by a male name, use male pronouns. This is why you’re having all these other problems, because you’re a boy trapped in a girl’s body, and you shouldn’t be suppressing that. You probably should start taking puberty blockers and eventually testosterone injections.”
Well, the parents were not on board for any of that, and the frightening thing, which should be of concern to all parents, is that their pushing back against this rush to somehow transform this girl chemically and surgically into a boy resulted in them being investigated by the state Department of Children and Families, so child protective services, CPS, for Massachusetts.
This is a Catholic family, and the investigator actually went in and questioned the family’s parish priest about what the church’s teaching on transgenderism is, all ostensibly in an effort to determine whether or not this family was a safe home for a “transgender” teen.
That’s terrifying. A DCF investigation is terrifying for any parent, but when it’s done in this bizarro world of you are potentially an unfit parent because you don’t want your daughter to be injected with testosterone and have a double elective mastectomy, how do you even deal with that?
The good news is I was able to put the family in touch with an experienced family law attorney who was there to make sure the DCF investigation didn’t get out of control, and it came back unsubstantiated, which is good.
The daughter is doing better now, and she’s not on hormones and she’s not transitioning. She’s getting help for the underlying mental health issues that were the cause, not the symptom of this gender identity stuff, as best we can tell.
Now, where this gets into the legislative piece [is] there was a bill that, unfortunately, was signed into law in June, around the same time that this phone call came in actually, and what it did is it now prevents licensed mental health professionals from counseling children, so under 18, to feel comfortable in their own body and to process unwanted same-sex desires. It’s called a counseling ban. Those types of laws have been passed all across the country. I think every state in New England now has one of those.
The parents don’t have the ability to go get the type of counseling for their children that they need to help them overcome, again, unwanted same-sex desires or gender identity confusion.
I’ll encapsulate it like this. Right now, in Massachusetts, if you have a 16-year-old girl who thinks she’s a boy, you can take her to Boston Children’s Hospital gender clinic, get puberty blockers, testosterone injections, get her set up for a double elective mastectomy, and then bottom surgery, which I won’t go into on air.
OK, that’s fine. You’ll be parent of the year in Massachusetts. No problem. No legal barrier to that.
If you take the same 16-year-old girl and get her help from a licensed mental health professional to literally feel comfortable in her own body, that is now prohibited by law.
Allen: Wow. Just absolutely insane. And we’re seeing other states embrace this and go down this same road.
Beckwith: Right, every state in New England right now.
Allen: Wow. Just really, really shocking. Now, as individuals are thinking, “Wow, I’ve heard of similar things happening in my state, but I’m not sure how to get plugged in or involved with organizations like yours in Massachusetts,” is there a resource that they can go to or visit to find out if there is an organization like Mass Family Institute in their own state?
Beckwith: Fortunately, I’m part of a 40-state network of family policy councils all across the country. We’ve got one in New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut. Rhode Island is launching one. We’re working on Vermont. All across the country.
The umbrella organization for that, which is connected to Focus on the Family, it’s called Family Policy Alliance. If you just go to familypolicyalliance.org, then there’s an “Allies” tab, and that lists all the state groups, their websites, and contact info.
If you’re encountering something like this in Massachusetts or in your home state, I encourage you to go to that website and call your local family policy council. Part of our job is to be that local state hub for resources for parents.
We have a great resource, it’s called the Parent Resource Guide, on the transgender issue. You can find it on my website at mafamily.org/prg, as in Parental Resource Guide, mafamily.org/prg. That’s a national-level resource that we have posted on our website.
We know attorneys that can help with family law issues or the parental rights issues. Sometimes this turns into a freedom of speech issue in schools, where students are being told they must use the preferred pronouns of a classmate or teacher who transitioned. That’s compelled speech. The school can’t make you do that. So if you have those kinds of problems, contact us. Oftentimes, we can help.
Allen: That’s great. Thank you so much, Mr. Beckwith. We really appreciate your time today.
Beckwith: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.