MONTPELIER, Vt. — Setting it on track to becoming law, the Vermont House of Representatives has overwhelmingly advanced a bill that would codify abortion in state law as being a “fundamental right,” while also stating that “[a] fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law.” It additionally prohibits the prosecution of any woman who uses means to induce her own abortion.
According to reports, House Bill 57, also known as “The Freedom of Choice Act,” passed 106-36 on Thursday after being co-sponsored by 90 House members who feared that the U.S. Supreme Court might overturn the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade.
“This bill is really about saying that we trust Vermonters with their own health care decisions in the privacy of their own doctors’ offices,” claimed Democratic House Speaker Rep. Mitzi Johnson, according to local television station WCAX, as if abortions are largely for medical purposes rather than convenience reasons.
“This bill will ensure that women are able to make private medical decisions with the advice of health care professionals they trust, without the interference of politicians,” similarly remarked Meagan Gallagher, president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, in a statement.
As previously reported, HB 57 was introduced last month by Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, and declares that “[t]he General Assembly intends this act to safeguard the right to abortion in Vermont by ensuring that right is not denied, restricted, or infringed by a governmental entity.”
It states that “[e]very individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry a pregnancy to term, give birth to a child, or to have an abortion.” The legislation also declares that “[a] fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law.”
Women who attempt a self-abortion—that is, those who use their own means to end their unborn child’s life—will not be prosecuted if the bill becomes law.
“No state or local law enforcement shall prosecute any individual for inducing, performing, or attempting to induce or perform the individual’s own abortion,” H.57 states.
A number of amendments to the bill were presented by Republican lawmakers, but all failed this week. One amendment required that a minor tell her parents that she planned on obtaining an abortion, but it was struck down 109-37.
“To require a young woman to turn to her family is not necessarily in her welfare,” Rep. Robin Chestnut Tangerman, D-Middletown Springs, argued.
“It astounds me that you cannot in school give a child an aspirin because they might have a negative reaction to it, but at the same time it is perfectly fine to tell a child, ‘If you are pregnant and want an abortion, that’s great. Don’t worry about telling your parents,'” lamented Rep. Marianna Gamache, R-Swanton.
HB 57 will now move to the Senate for a vote, which is expected next month.
As previously reported, Republican Gov. Phil Scott has said that he is supportive on the concept of enshrining Roe v. Wade in state law.
“I am supportive of a woman’s right to choose, and I’m supportive of Roe v. Wade,” he said last month, according to MyChamplainValley.com. “This [bill] is in response to federal action, or the federal fear of action, to roll back Roe v. Wade, and I think that should be protected.”
Psalm 119:116 reads, “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes because they keep not Thy Law.”
In expounding on the Scripture, Bible commentator Albert Barnes said, “There is nothing for which we should be excited to deeper emotion in respect to our fellow-men than for the fact that they are violators of the law of God, and exposed to its fearful penalty. There is nothing which more certainly indicates true piety in the soul than such deep compassion for people as sinners, or because they are sinners.”
“There is nothing which is more certainly connected with a work of grace in a community, or revival of true religion, than when such a feeling pervades a church. Then Christians will pray; then they will labor to save sinners; then they will feel their dependence on God; and then the Spirit of God will descend and bless the efforts put forth for the salvation of people.”
“It may be added, nothing is more remarkable than that pious people ordinarily feel so little on account of the danger of their friends and fellow-sinners—that the occasions are so rare on which they imitate the example of the psalmist and of the Saviour in weeping over the condition of a perishing world!”