Illinois, Vermont Govs. Sign Bills Declaring ‘Fundamental Right’ to Abortion, No ‘Independent Rights’ for Unborn

Pritzker photo credit: Chi Hack Night

The Democratic governor of Illinois and the Republican governor of Vermont have signed bills into law that enshrine the “right” to abortion in their state, while explicitly stating that are no “independent rights” for the unborn.

“Today, we proudly proclaim that in this state, we trust women,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during the signing on Wednesday at the Chicago Cultural Center. “And in Illinois, we guarantee as a fundamental right a woman’s right to choose.”

“Like many Vermonters, I have consistently supported a woman’s right to choose,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said in a statement as he signed his state’s bill into law on Monday. “This legislation affirms what is already allowable in Vermont – protecting reproductive rights and ensuring those decisions remain between a woman and her health care provider.”

As previously reported, the legislation in both states generated alarm among pro-life groups because of their “radical” and expansive nature, with some opining that the bills are worse than New York’s Reproductive Health Act. (Read Christian News Network’s reports here and here.)

“Every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise that right,” Illinois’ bill, House Bill 2495, reads.

“A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this state,” it declares.

The bill also proclaims that the State may not “deny, restrict, interfere with, or discriminate against an individual’s exercise of the fundamental rights set forth in this Act.”

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Some interpret the statute as allowing abortion up until birth for any reason as it does not contain language pertaining to limitations, and eliminates language from the current law that prohibits abortion past the point of viability unless “in the medical judgment of the attending or referring physician, based on the particular facts of the case before him, it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

It additionally allows for non-physicians, such as advanced practice registered nurses or physicians assistants, to perform abortions, listing them generally as “health care professionals.”

Read the bill in full here. 

Similarly, House Bill 57, the legislation Vermont signed by Gov. Scott on Monday, outlines 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.

“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.

Read the bill in full here.

Pro-life groups issued statements this week lamenting that such measures have now been enshrined in the law.

“The legacy of this governor, and any legislator who voted to pass this law, will be that of cruel dehumanization of unborn Illinoisans on a mass scale,” remarked Peter Breen, a former Illinois representative and now vice president of the Thomas More Society.

“They will bear the legacy of thousands of late-term dismemberment abortions inflicted on perfectly healthy, viable children. They will bear the legacy of many thousands more children aborted in Illinois instead of being allowed to live, with the resulting psychological trauma to their mothers, including teenagers, who might otherwise have brought their children to term.”

Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life, said that Gov. Scott’s signature serves as an endorsement of abortion “throughout all nine months of pregnancy.”

“His signature signals his preference for protecting the business of abortion over other life-affirming options in Vermont statute,” she lamented.

“Going forward, Gov. Scott shares responsibility for harm to girls and women, rising numbers of abortion in Vermont, as well as the violent harm done to unborn children,” the organization stated.

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