The chairman of a local Massachusetts Democratic committee has resigned after he suggested unborn babies with disabilities should be aborted because they are a drain on public school funding.
Despite protests and calls for his resignation, the Framingham Democratic Committee rejected a motion Sunday to discuss ousting its chairman, Michael Hugo, after the horrific comment. That led to even more protests.
Hugo resigned as the chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee in Massachusetts on Thursday after the backlash contoinued. Hugo’s statement shows he clearly has no understanding about how insensitive it was to suggest that disabled babies be killed in abortions just to cut costs.
“I have apologized profusely too many times, but it seems obvious to all objective observers that there is something unusual about this particular crisis, in that it has an extraordinary life,” Hugo wrote in an email to the committee and obtained by Fox News. “Time will tell as to why this has become a – literally – international story, and why it has been amplified by the Chair of the Ashland Republican Committee.”
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He also said in his Thursday email that he made his decision after conversations with his wife and the Massachusetts state Senate President Karen Spilka, a fellow Democrat.
Just ahead of Hugo’s resignation, Spilka called for Hugo to step down in a public statement given to the Framingham Source. She called his comments “egregious and totally unacceptable.”
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“As the sister and long-time legal guardian of a sister with Down Syndrome, I have dedicated my career to advocating for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, and my life to raising awareness of the challenges they face and the opportunities they deserve,” she wrote. “It is in the best interest of the community that he steps aside.”
Instead of voting to oust Hugo, the Democrat committee told the newspaper that its members approved a statement “repudiating” the chairman’s “recent harmful comments.” The committee did not say if Hugo will face any consequences, according to the report.
On Feb. 7 during a Framingham City Council meeting, Hugo urged the council to pass a proclamation to discourage pregnancy resource centers from opening in the city. One of the reasons he gave was his “fear” that more children with disabilities will be born and cost the city money.
“Our fear is that if an unqualified sonographer misdiagnoses a heart defect, an organ defect, spina bifida, 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.
His comments sparked national news attention and protests by local disability rights advocates, as well as calls to resign. Ten days later, Hugo issued a formal apology; however, many described it as insincere.
Kurt Kondrich, a national advocate for people with disabilities and father of a daughter with Down syndrome, said the Democratic chairman’s comments were “beyond offensive” in a Fox News interview.
“Massachusetts doesn’t have a death penalty, which is fine because they don’t want to possibly execute someone who might be innocent …” Kondrich said. “But this is prenatal execution of a person who fails a test because they don’t meet the cultural criteria of what perfection is.”
After the committee meeting Sunday, local parents and disability rights advocates expressed frustration with the Democratic leaders’ inaction.
According to the Herald:
“I want the community to know that although many of his peers unfortunately want to forget and move on from these harmful, damaging words that were said, as disability advocates, we are not going to forget,” city resident Laura Green said in a phone interview. “We are going to continue to advocate for inclusion and acceptance of students with disabilities everywhere.”
Jon Fetherston, an Ashland resident who works in the city, is the father of an adult child with disabilities. He said he felt the community had progressed to a point where residents were more tolerant and accepting of those with disabilities, but the past month has changed his mindset.
“If they won’t even have a conversation about his possible removal, you can’t have it both ways,” Fetherston said of the Democratic Committee’s decision. “It’s very concerning that they want to have it both ways. I’m always fine with the final decision but the fact you don’t even want to have a conversation, it means your apology is disingenuous.”
During the Feb. 7 city council meeting, Hugo said he spoke on behalf of the whole Framingham Democratic Committee – something other committee members later denied.
Hugo did not make the comments off the cuff either; he sent an email to all 11 city council members hours before the meeting with very similar comments, according to the Framingham Source, which first broke the news.
“Is the state going to cover the costs of special education for a down’s syndrome affected child?” Hugo wrote in the email. “How much does Framingham’s Public School Department pay for unreimbursed special needs school transportation, specialized education and durable supplies?”
After the meeting, in an email to the Source, a local news outlet, Hugo claimed he made the comments “in haste” and he regrets them. He also asked the news outlet not to run an article about him, arguing it would only cause “additional harm.”
The Source ran the article anyway, and LifeNews and others picked up the story. Hugo later issued an apology, and the Democratic committee issued a statement denouncing his remarks.
Racist and ableist comments are common throughout the history of the pro-abortion movement.
Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a well known eugenicist who believed certain groups of people, especially the poor and people with disabilities, were “unfit” and should be “weeded” out of society.
“Their lives are hopeless repetitions,” Sanger wrote in 1925. “All that they have said has been said before; all that they have done has been done better before. Such human weeds clog up the path, drain up the energies and the resources of this little earth. We must clear the way for a better world; we must cultivate our garden.”
Today, Sanger’s organization, Planned Parenthood, aborts more than 380,000 unborn babies every year and lobbies against laws to protect unborn babies from discrimination based on their special needs, sex or race. Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Party also are close supporters of each other.