Attempting to Repeal an Outdated Abortion Law

By Steph Machado

Published 02/13 2014 07:18PM

Updated 03/24 2014 02:39PM

MONTPELIER - A law that makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions in Vermont is on its way out the door.

Although abortion has been legal for four decades, Vermont still has a law on the books that proscribes a prison sentence for doctors who perform one. The law was ruled unconstitutional by Beecham vs. Leahy and Jeffords in 1971, and then by Roe vs. Wade one year later in 1972. But the law was never repealed.

Thursday the Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval to S.317, a bill to repeal the unconstitutional law. Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) reported the bill to the Senate and says it has started a conversation about outdated laws in Vermont.

"Perhaps we ought to be looking at some sort of triggering device," he said. "So that in the event any of our statutes are declared unconstitutional, rendered null and void, especially after a period of time they should automatically be removed from the books. We've never gotten around to doing that."

The bill passed on voice vote and is expected to fully pass the Senate Friday, after which it will head to the House.

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