MONTPELIER, Vermont, February 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – An abortion bill that pro-lifers are calling possibly the most extreme in the nation passed a preliminary vote in the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday night, rejecting numerous Republican amendments meant to moderate its effects.
Last month, more than 90 House members cosponsored legislation to codify a “fundamental right” to “have an abortion,” like several other states moving to ensure abortion remains legal regardless of a future Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“No state or local law enforcement shall prosecute any individual for inducing, performing, or attempting to induce or perform the individual’s own abortion,” it says, as well as prohibiting any “public entity” from restricting any sort of benefits or services on the basis of an individual’s decision to have or a medical worker’s decision to commit an abortion. The language suggesting there be no prosecution for do-it-yourself abortions raises questions about whether there would be adequate legal protections against infanticide in Vermont.
On Wednesday evening, the House voted 104-40 to give the bill preliminary approval, Valley News reported, with the final vote all but certain to go similarly.
“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,” House Speaker Mitzi Johnson declared, claiming the bill would not “change a thing” about Vermont’s abortion status quo.
Republicans introduced a variety of amendments, including a 48-hour waiting period, parental consent, and prohibiting abortions past 24 weeks.
Other amendments were proposed to officially recognize fetal personhood, ban partial-birth abortion, require ultrasounds, and institute safety standards and inspections for abortion facilities, NBC 5 added.
“This bill doesn’t have any bumpers around it,” GOP Minority Leader Pattie McCoy said. “I’d like to see some bumpers.” But Planned Parenthood of Northern New England blasted the proposals as “burdensome,” and after a day of debate the Democrat majority rejected all of them.
Pro-life voices such as Vermont Right to Life executive director Mary Hahn Beerworth and the Diocese of Burlington have spoken out against the legislation, arguing it will not only protect abortion up until birth but enable abortionists to practice with the same level of professionalism and patient care as Kermit Gosnell.
“Planned Parenthood says trust us, and everybody loves Planned Parenthood here. They’ve dominated the state for decades,” Beerworth warned. “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.”
“We have no desire to impose our way of life on others, but there are times when the threat to life is so egregious that our faith compels us to speak out publicly, especially on behalf of those who have no voice or are viewed as unwanted,” the Diocese of Burlington’s Deacon Philip Lawson added. “As Christians and as Catholics, we are a people of life, and we cannot sit idly by when any life is threatened.”
After a final vote in the state house, the bill will move to the Democrat-dominated Vermont Senate, where it will likely pass. Liberal Republican Gov. Phil Scott has said he’s supportive of the bill’s stated purpose to protect abortion but is waiting for the legislature to settle on finalized language before confirming whether he’ll sign it.