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Politician faces calls to resign after suggesting babies with disabilities should be aborted to save money

A politician in the US. is facing calls to resign after he suggested that children with disabilities should be aborted to save money.

During a city council on 7 February, Michael Hugo, a Massachusetts Democrat and the chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee, verbally attacked crisis pregnancy centres in a debate about abortion. 

During the debate he said: “Our fear is that if an unqualified stenographer misdiagnoses a heart defect, an organ defect, spina bifida or encephalopathic defect, that becomes a very local issue, because our school budget would have to absorb the cost of the child in our special education budget.”

Before the meeting, he sent out a letter that asked whether Massachusetts would “cover the cover the medical costs for a fetus that had sound medical reason to be terminated.”

He went on to imply that unborn babies with special needs should be aborted by asking if the state “would cover the costs of special education for a Down syndrome-affected child” or “pay the extraordinary medical expense of a child with a (serious heart condition).”

Hugo is the director of policy and government relations for the Massachusetts Association of Health Board and his comments have sparked fury among locals and even among colleagues within his own party.

“This is eugenics…”

Cheryl Tully-Stoll, also a Framingham Democratic Committee member and former city councilor, said ‘I am absolutely horrified about what I just heard our chairman say and relate the entire issue to special needs costs to our school.”

Adam Steiner, City Councilor said that he was “disappointed and saddened” by the remarks. 

He later wrote on Facebook “Unfortunately, there has been a long history of arguments in our town/city pitting the needs of particular students against the financial constraints of the Framingham budget.”

Ten days after his comments, Hugo did issue a public apology but many residents, particularly those with children with disabilities remain furious.

Kristan Hawkins, a mother of two children with cystic fibrosis, said “This is eugenics, this is eugenics in 2023 America, this is an argument that sadly we’ve heard before and throughout American history, just regurgitated using a bunch of fancy lingo or support for abortion.”

“As a parent of an autistic child, I read those comments and go ‘what?’”

Sheryl Goldstein, the chair of the Framingham Disabilities Commission, said “I saw what Michael had said as a personal attack against my own children. That my children who had special needs were not worth the expense in the school system.”

Disability advocate Laura Green said “I feel like after a statement like that is made, you can’t just pretend that it didn’t happen or take it back because it’s damaging to a community of people.”

“The disability community is the only minority group that you can become a part of at any time.”

Jon Fetherston, who is organising a protest outside of the City Hall in Framingham for later this week, said “As a parent of an autistic child, I read those comments and go ‘what?’ A peer of mine thinks that I should’ve aborted my child because he was going to be a burden to a school budget?”

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Sadly, when abortion is regarded as a ‘treatment’ to eliminate children with disabilities, this is exactly the kind of thinking that often follows. It is an inhuman calculation that people with disabilities can be more expensive and, therefore, should be eliminated by abortion to save money.”

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