Vermont House to take final vote on abortion rights bill

Local News

The Vermont House will vote Thursday on the final version of a bill to protect abortion as a fundamental right under state law.

Lawmakers on Wednesday voted along party lines to approve House Bill 57 by a 104-40 margin. Along the way, they rejected 10 proposed Republican amendments, including one that would have criminalized abortions after 24 weeks.

Proponents, including about 90 sponsors and co-sponsors of House Bill 57, say they want to ensure abortion remains a right for woman in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion nationwide. They say the proposal would do nothing more than ensure that women’s access to abortion continues as available now.

Opponents say the legislation could make it possible for woman to have abortions right up until the moment of birth.

Rep. Michael Mrowicki (D) challenged that claim, along with dozens of Democratic and Progressive lawmakers.

“This bill changes nothing from current practice,” Mrowicki said. “It ensures that instability in Washington will not affect rights for women here.”

Lucy Leriche, the vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said in a statement that the Republican amendments were “burdensome.” 

“The goal of this bill is to prevent government interference between a patient and their health care practitioner,” she said, “and it is stunning to see just how far that intrusion could go if these amendments had passed.”

Rep. Brian Smith (R) characterized the bill as “fear legislation.”

“The fear being the possible loss of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and being followed by a Presidential appointment,” Smith said.

Among the amendments rejected Wednesday included a requirement that minors obtain parental consent before getting an abortion. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a similar piece of legislation. Like Vermont’s bill, it codifies abortion protections under Roe v. Wade into state law, keeping abortions legal and protecting women and doctors from government interference. 

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