A local Democrat official in Massachusetts is facing calls to step down after complaining about the cost of special education for children with disabilities who are not aborted.
Michael Hugo, the chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee, made the remarks during a city council meeting when discussing a proclamation about access to abortion and crisis pregnancy centers in the city. He said crisis pregnancy centers could misdiagnose a defect in a baby in the womb, leading to them being born and becoming a strain on a school budget. He issued a public apology after 10 days of backlash from members of his own party and parents of special needs children.
“I saw what Michael had said as a personal attack against my own children,” said Sheryl Goldstein, the chair of the Framingham Disabilities Commission. “That my children who had special needs were not worth the expense in the school system.”
In his public apology letter, Hugo called his comments “offensive and hurtful.”
“I am writing to offer my most sincere and humble apology to members of the Framingham Democratic Committee, but more especially my fellow members of Framingham’s disability family community, for comments that I made at the last City Council meeting which were offensive and hurtful,” he wrote.
He said members of the committee did not “see or review” his remarks despite being sent out the night before the meeting.
“Our fear is that if an unqualified sonographer misdiagnoses a heart defect, an organ defect, spina bifida or an encephalopathic defect 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 at the Feb. 7 meeting.
Sarah Green, a disability advocate in Framingham told Fox News that she does not accept his apology.
“I feel that it was generic and lackluster. 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,” she said. “The disability community is the only minority group that you can become a part of at any time.”
According to his LinkedIn, Hugo is also the director of policy and government affairs for the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards.
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Jon Fetherston, a special needs advocate and registered Republican said he was in disbelief when he heard the comments.
“As a parent of an autistic child, I read those comments and go ‘what?’” he said. “A peer of mine thinks that I should’ve aborted my child because he was going to be a burden to a school budget?”
Kristan Hawkins, the mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and the president of Students for Life told Fox News she was deeply offended by Hugo’s comments.
“This is discrimination plain and simple,” she said. “I think people who say that the sick cost too much for our society better find the fountain of youth real quick because someday that’s going to be them, it’s going to be their family members.”
“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,” Hawkins added.
In his speech, Hugo said he was “speaking on behalf of the Framingham Democratic Committee,” adding that it’s their mission to “work for the common good by promoting racial, ethnic, social, and economic equality for the people of Framingham.”
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“It’s astounding to see such a heartless statement, especially coming from 2023 America where we’re supposed to be this progressive inclusive society that celebrates diversity, come out and say ‘well yeah certain people shouldn’t be born because they’re going to cost us too much money,” Hawkins said.
A speaker that came shortly after Hugo at the meeting denounced him and said he went “off the rails.”
“I’m a lifetime member of the Democratic Committee, and the person who wanted to represent us went off the rails on a different direction that was never brought before the Democratic Committee,” said Pat Dunne, a former Framingham School Committee member, according to Framingham Source. “We’re not talking about eliminating special education students and the like. We’re talking about getting out good information to the people in Framingham. And he’s casting a bit too wide for me and that’s why I did want to say something.”
In a letter sent to city council members several hours before the meeting and obtained by Fox News, Hugo provided a preview of his remarks reported to the Source, asking if the state will “cover the medical costs for a fetus that had sound medical reason to be terminated.”
He questioned if the state would “cover the costs of special education for a down syndrome affected child” and “pay for the extraordinary medical expense of a child with an atrial septal defect?”
“How much does Framingham’s Public School Department pay for unreimbursed special needs school transportation, specialized education and durable supplies?” he asked.
Hugo also claimed crisis pregnancy centers’ sonographers would likely misdiagnose defects “while proclaiming that it is a beautiful child living inside the mother and handing her an ultrasound photo that nobody can figure out without training, some diapers and a couple of ‘onesies’ for her new baby.”
Hugo said he and others are working to prevent pro-life crisis pregnancy centers from opening up in Framingham.
Hawkins disputed Hugo’s complaints about crisis pregnancy centers.
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“Pregnancy care centers offer such excellent free services that even the abortion-supporting community has taken note,” she said. “Preventing young mothers from getting free services is a sign that the abortion mindset has poisoned far too many in our culture.”
Goldstein added that due to her leadership position with the disabilities commission, she has received many calls and texts from families with special needs children in the community.
“People are quite frankly very upset,” she said “They want action.”
The Framingham Democratic Committee echoed Hugo’s apology in a statement issued last week, claiming his remarks did not reflect the full committee, adding “we fully disavow and denounce them.”
“If they disavow and do not support those comments, how do you leave him in charge of your organization?” Fetherston who has a child with autism asked. “He has an influential position inside the party and if he even thinks that, much less says it in a public meeting, then he shouldn’t be in a leadership position.”
“I think he should immediately step down,” Fetherston added.
Hawkins said that while she believes Hugo should be removed, his blunt comments “hopefully woke up a lot of people to their support of abortion.”
Neither Hugo nor the Framingham Democratic Committee responded to Fox News’ request for comment.
To learn more about the backlash to Hugo, click here.
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