By Deborah Brancic
In the special Senate election, Democrat Ed Markey won with a 10-point spread over Republican Gabriel Gomez, a result which seemed to be in-line with the overall views of citizens working and studying in the Longwood Medical Area (LMA). As a pro-choice politician, Markey connected with voters who did not wish to see a change in law, which could result from a Supreme Court reversal of the landmark Roe v. Wade (1973) decision. Markey’s election was significant because with two Justices approaching an age of possible retirement (Antonin Scalia, 77, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80), a new Justice with a pro-life platform just may tip the scale.
“[Markey] has experience, he’s gotten his feet wet,” said Christine Cromartie, a Brookline resident who works at a hospital in the LMA. She thought Markey had a greater understanding of political issues and was happy to see him support a woman’s right to choose.
Markey’s pro-choice stance was a selling point for many in the LMA. “You can’t just tell someone to have a kid, there are exceptions,” said Ray Rodriguez, a sophomore at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) studying dental hygiene. “If you cannot support the kid, abortion might be the necessary choice, but not the right choice.” Although he did not personally believe he would choose to abort a child, he believed women should be able to make that decision themselves.
“Unless you’ve walked in those people’s shoes — raped at twelve or something like that — you really can’t talk. No one should be playing God to say what people can’t do,” said Cromartie. She said that sometimes abortion was necessary, because pregnancy could be the result of bad decisions, or due to poor circumstances.
She also believed a woman should be able to choose whether to bring a physically or mentally retarded child into the world. “Who are you to make a person have a retarded child that will cost more?” said Cromartie. Disabled children are not always covered by insurance, she said.
Sometimes a woman should not have a child because she is mentally unfit, said Michelle Guillemette of Nashua, a medical professional in the LMA. “Nobody should tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. They don’t know my mental state, they don’t know my condition,” she said.
Not everyone agreed with Markey’s stance, however. Ricardo Niño, a resident at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that abortion went against his values and principles. He said there should be more regulations and that more checkpoints should be installed for a woman to receive an abortion. “We should take care of teenage girls who want to have an abortion — offer counseling, check for abuse, look into their background or situation and see if it can be improved,” he said.
“I am pro-life because of my religious background. It’s what I was taught, how I was raised,” said Josh Patel, a sophomore at MCPHS studying pharmacy. While he did not support abortion, he said he would not deprive a woman of the choice. “I wouldn’t want to decide for other people, my ideals should not influence other people.”
“[Markey’s] reasoning is good, so that’s what counts,” said Patel, conceding that the newly elected Senator was probably the best choice for the state.
“People should be able to choose what to do with their bodies,” said Susan Savino, who works in the LMA. “[Markey’s] views are probably why he won.”
On Markey’s political record is a vote against the “Stupak-Pitts Amendment,” which would have denied women the ability to purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion services, even when using their own money. He made it clear in the Senate race debates that he planned to continue to support a woman’s right to choose when he arrives in Washington.