Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (62), October 28, 1986

Times Editorial: Those Ballot Questions

Something ought to be done to make it more difficult to get propositions on the state ballot.

There will be eight questions on next Tuesday’s election ballot, and it is hard to find even one that isn’t superfluous, redundant, confusing, pernicious, or just plain confusing.

Proposed amendments to the state constitution should be subject to ratification by the electorate that seems proper. But the ballot is not an appropriate vehicle for legislating complicated public policy programs and policies, or for urging new programs and policies at the national level.

To reduce the chances for legislative mischief, Massachusetts needs to tighten up on popular initiative ballot questions.

With that said, here are our recommendations on the Nov. 4 ballot questions:

Question No. 1 is a disservice to the sincerely held convictions on both sides of the abortion issue.

It proposes to amend the state constitution with language that would make it easier for the Legislature to regulate, prohibit, or liberalize abortions without being overruled by the Supreme Judicial Court.

We don’t think either side in the abortion debate favors this kind of selective upsetting of the normal governmental checks and balances. As long as the termination of pregnancies remains a subject of profound moral, religious, and medical disagreement, it would be a mistake to provide constitutional protection for ill-advised constitutional protection for ill-advised legislation in this sensitive area.

Forget all the impassioned rhetoric you’ve heard — on both sides — and cast a clear-conscience vote against Question No. 1 …