Vermont House lawmakers moved forward with a bill Wednesday to keep abortions legal up to birth in the state.
After rejecting amendments to protect late-term unborn babies and young girls, state lawmakers voted 104-40 to move forward with a final vote on House Bill 57, WCAX reports. It is expected to pass in a final vote Thursday and move to the state Senate.
State Rep. Ann Pugh, a pro-abortion Democrat sponsoring the bill, said many abortion supporters like herself fear that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade.
“The purpose of this bill is to clarify for Vermonters at a time of national uncertainty. It will reinforce a woman’s right to reproductive health care freedom,” she said.
Her bill is similar to a law that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in January. It would recognize abortion as a “fundamental human right” and ensure that the government does not deny, restrict or infringe upon a woman’s “right” to abort her unborn baby.
Pro-life Republican lawmakers introduced several amendments that would have limited abortions after an unborn baby is viable and required parental consent for minors, but Democrats voted them down, WVNY News reports. A lobbyist for Planned Parenthood blasted the amendments as “burdensome,” according to the local news.
Vermont already is one of the few states that allows unrestricted abortions up to birth. The bill would codify this into state law.
“The significant change in passing this legislation will not be in what is legal in Vermont,” said Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of the Vermont Right to Life Committee. “The change is that the Vermont Legislature will move from passive acceptance of unrestricted abortion to intentional enactment.”
Fox News reports a companion piece to the bill would prohibit health care workers who perform legal abortions from being “subject to any civil, criminal, or administrative liability and penalty.” The bill also would prohibit “any individual” from being prosecuted for an abortion or attempted abortion.
“Planned Parenthood says trust us, and everybody loves Planned Parenthood here. They’ve dominated the state for decades,” Beerworth said. “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.”
Beerworth said the bill would allow abortionists like Gosnell to continue practicing without consequences. A Philadelphia abortionist, Gosnell was convicted of murdering three newborn babies and contributing to the death of a female patient, as well as dozens of other crimes in 2013.
“There’d be nothing we could do about” someone like Gosnell if House Bill 57 passes, Beerworth said.
Polls indicate the legislation is radically out of touch with most Americans’ views on abortion. According to a national poll by Marist University, three in four Americans (75 percent) say abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy. This includes most Republicans (92 percent), Independents (78 percent) and a majority of Democrats (60 percent). It also includes more than six in 10 (61 percent) who identify as “pro-choice” on abortion.
A May 2018 Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans oppose all or most abortions.