The Vermont House has moved forward on an abortion bill that would allow abortion at any time for any reason. The bill is one of the latest to be proposed by pro-abortion advocates amid fears that a conservative-leaning Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.
“The purpose of this bill is to clarify for Vermonters at a time of national uncertainty. It will reinforce a woman’s right to reproductive health care freedom,” said Democrat State Representative Ann Pugh, one of the bill's sponsors.
The bill, H. 57, proposes to “recognize as a fundamental right the freedom of reproductive choice,” and seeks to “prohibit public entities from interfering with or restricting the right of an individual to terminate” her pregnancy.
Under the bill, a fetus will not have “independent rights under Vermont law.”
Fox News reports that an addition to the main bill, a bill in the Vermont Senate, S. 25, protects healthcare workers who perform legal abortions from being “subject to any civil, criminal, or administrative liability and penalty.” The bill also would prohibit women from being prosecuted for an abortion or attempted abortion.
Supporters of the bill contend it is necessary to ensure abortion rights in the state.
"This access is something the state has valued and should continue to recognize and reinforce," Pugh said.
But opponents recognize the bill as an attack on life.
"Currently the most underrepresented person in the world, here in Vermont anyway, is a fetus that has not yet been born," said Republican State Representative Carl Rosenquist. "It feels pain. It feels love. We don't regard it as anything until it is born."
Rosenquist introduced an amendment to the bill that would have recognized a viable fetus as a person under the law, but it was defeated by a vote of 106-41.
Pro-life lawmakers also introduced an amendment that would have required parental consent for minors, but that was also voted down.
State Representative Vicki Strong introduced two other amendments, one that would have required women to have an ultrasound 24 hours before undergoing an abortion and another that would have required abortion facilities to be inspected by the state. Both were voted down.
Another failed amendment would have permitted women to seek abortions until 24 weeks gestation but criminalize abortions sought after 24 weeks. State Representative Maxine Grad, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, claimed that the amendment was about “criminalizing medical practice.” She declared, “The whole thing is called into constitutional question.”
Republican lawmakers also proposed an amendment that would have created a mandatory 48-hour waiting period for abortions. Predictably, that failed.
Lucy Leriche, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, claimed the Republican amendments were “burdensome” and proved the need for the legislature to pass H. 57 in order to “prevent government interference between a patient and their healthcare practitioner.”
“It is stunning to see just how far that intrusion could go if these amendments had passed,” she said in a statement on Wednesday night.
But Republican Minority Leader Pattie McCoy said that the amendments sought to place “bumpers” around a measure that ultimately provides cart blanche right to abortions.
Mary Hahn Beerworth, Vermont Right to Life executive director, contends the bill’s supporters are short-sighted and do not recognize that it has the potential to enable people such as Kermit Gosnell, a former abortionist who routinely delivered babies alive and then murdered them, to operate with total freedom.
“Planned Parenthood says trust us, and everybody loves Planned Parenthood here. They’ve dominated the state for decades,” she added. “But they’re not thinking, or they don’t care, that somebody could just move here tomorrow and undercut Planned Parenthood for price and run a Gosnell-like clinic.”
The bill won preliminary approval by a count of 104-40 on Wednesday, Vermont Public Radio reports, and is set for a final vote in the House on Thursday. It then heads to the Senate, where it is expected to easily pass, as Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe stated that there was “strong support,” reports US News & World Report.
The state’s Legislature is also beginning the process of amending the state’s constitution to guarantee abortion rights.
Left-leaning states across the country are passing sweeping pro-abortion legislation in anticipation of a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“We have seen courts in some jurisdictions start to restrict existing rights and freedoms and we want make to sure that future women in Vermont have the same options and protections that women have had for the last 46 years here,” Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson told reporters on Wednesday.
But as noted by LifeNews, the measures are “radically out of touch with most Americans’ views on abortion.” A national poll by Marist University shows that three out of four Americans believe abortions should be limited to the first trimester.