Massachusetts Gov. Romney Vetoes Bill That Would Authorize Nonprescription Sale of Hypodermic Needles
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) on Friday vetoed a bill (H 4176) that would have authorized the nonprescription sale of syringes to people age 18 and older as a means of reducing the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other bloodborne diseases, the AP/Boston Globe reports (LeBlanc, AP/Boston Globe, 6/30). The bill would have required pharmacists dispensing the needles to provide a brochure created by the state Department of Public Health that includes information about the proper use and disposal of syringes and needles, the risk of contracting bloodborne diseases through such devices and the state's toll-free number for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C information (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/26). "We believe that upon further review of the bill, some of the unintended consequences could be more severe than the benefits of signing the bill," Romney said in a statement (AP/Boston Globe, 7/1). The bill when considered by the legislature received enough votes that an override is possible(Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/26).
It is unclear whether allowing the nonprescription sale of hypodermic needles will have an impact on the spread of HIV/AIDS and other bloodborne diseases, but it is certain that "for zero expenditure of public money it's worth a try," a Boston Herald editorial says. Romney "insisted the bill 'exacerbates the public health crisis over heroin abuse, and it sends the wrong message by appearing to condone drug use,'" the editorial says, adding, "Rarely has such patent nonsense escaped the lips of an occupant" of the governor's office. This bill is not "about needles or heroin or HIV, it's all about the [political] spin," the editorial says, concluding that "all is right with the political world" because the state Legislature has enough votes to override the veto, and Romney "gets his veto press release" (Boston Herald, 7/2).