Framingham Democratic Committee Chair Under Fire for Controversial Comments

Michael Hugo said he regrets the comments he made, which referenced birth defects and the cost of supporting children with special needs, and that he plans to issue a public apology

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The chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee is apologizing for comments he made at a city council meeting. The comments, which came during a discussion about abortion and reproductive rights, referenced birth defects that are not detected and the cost of supporting special needs children. 

Hugo spoke during a meeting where the city council unanimously passed an ordinance to protect reproductive rights. He said he was trying to make a point that crisis pregnancy centers that mislead patients have no place in Framingham. He said some of those centers employ unqualified ultrasound technicians. 

“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 of services to children, who were born with the defect,” Hugo said during the meeting. 

His comments led to a firestorm of criticism from people in the community who said his comments sent a message that special needs children should be aborted because they are a burden to the town. Jon Fetherson, who is the father of a special needs son, said he was extremely offended. 

“I was just appalled. It’s a horror to me. He’s a bully and he should be called out for his comments,” Fetherston said. 

State representative Priscilla Sousa was outraged too. She is also the chair of Framingham’s school committee. 

“I was absolutely mortified to hear that somebody would speak in such a manner. I almost felt an ache in my heart when I heard somebody could see our children as a burden,” Sousa said. 

“It has nothing to do with a burden, I was just saying it is an expense,” Hugo said. 

Hugo said he regrets making the comments and plans to issue a public apology at the next city council meeting. He said he never meant to offend anyone.

“I really, really regret making the comments. Those comments do not reflect who I am as a person or as a parent to a special needs child,” Hugo said.

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