Gov. Phil Scott’s office has indicated that the governor will let a controversial abortion rights bill become law, but how he goes about it has become a hot topic for abortion proponents and pro-life groups alike.
As most other states move to limit abortion and restrict it to the earliest moments of pregnancy, lawmakers in Vermont passed legislation that declares a “fundamental right” to abortion up to the moment of birth.
It is yet unclear whether Scott will sign the bill or merely let it become law without his signature. By not signing the bill, it will eventually become law by default. The passive approach is generally perceived as a strategy to appease both sides of the sensitive issue, but it may also anger pro-life groups and pro-abortion activists.
Those who support unrestricted abortion would like to Scott to publicly affirm his support for H.57 while other states are placing further restrictions on terminating human life.
“When we elect candidates who represent our interests and our desires, we can have a governor that champions pro-choice legislation, instead of reluctantly letting it slide by his desk,” said Julielyn Gibbons of @VoteChoice campaign." #vtpoli #stopthebans https://t.co/fi6O8KyrHv
— Julielyn (@julielyn) May 22, 2019
Among states, Alabama has taken the strongest stance against abortion. On May 15, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive anti-abortion measure in the United States since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. The “Human Life Protection Act” bans all abortions except when “abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk.”
Alabama’s law also criminalizes abortions as a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform the procedure. Attempted abortions will be classified as a Class C felony.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp signed what is called the “fetal heartbeat” bill. This prohibits abortions once a heartbeat can be detected from the embryo, about five to six weeks into the term. More recently, a research team funded by the British Heart Foundation at the University of Oxford found a baby’s first heartbeat can occur even as soon as 16 days after conception.
Six states have passed abortion restrictions similar to the so-called heartbeat bill. Also, six states have enacted what are being called “trigger laws,” which means legislation would take effect in the future if the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade gets overturned.
These laws propose that if the decision on abortions is left to the states, abortion would become automatically illegal. Nine other states have introduced “trigger law” bills.
All these new laws putting restrictions on abortion has spurred at least one demonstration on the Statehouse front lawn.
— Kathryn Van Haste (@KathrynVanHaste) May 22, 2019
While Vermont is generally considered to be pro-choice, pro-life supporters have been very visible this year at the Statehouse, routinely outnumbering pro-abortion activists at public hearings and public marches.
This strong pro-life community is not happy with his decision to allow H.57 to become law, even without a signature.
Gregory Thayer, of Bomoseen, is urging Vermonters to take action and call the governor.
The governor has stated in a news conference that he believes there would be fewer people upset about the bill if there was a better understanding of what it does and does not do. Vermont currently has no laws restricting abortion, and supporters say the purpose of this bill is to maintain the status quo, especially in the event that abortion law changes at the federal level.
Vermont is not alone in pushing for more abortion rights. Nevada’s majority-female assembly recently passed a bill which would end the requirement that doctors warn patients about the emotional implications of an abortion.
Vermont’s anticipated passing of H.57 has gained national news attention. The New York Times has weighed in, noting that Vermont is moving in a separate direction from other states.
“The Vermont bill, aimed at providing some of the strongest protections for abortion rights in the nation, came as crowds of supporters for such rights gathered on Tuesday outside state houses and on the steps of the Supreme Court to protest abortion bans like Alabama’s,” it states.
In the Times piece, Vermont state Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, explains why she thinks H.57 is necessary.
“In this time when, across the country and nationally, when Roe v. Wade and individuals’ access to private, reliable reproductive health care and abortion is in question, we thought we’d better be clear in Vermont,” she said.
Meanwhile, media advocating a pro-life perspective is getting censored. The new documentary “Unplanned,” which is based on the memoir of former Planned Parenthood activist Abby Johnson, has been banned in Canada.
Abortion supporters on Facebook wrote letters to the social media giant demanding that the popular site remove ads for pregnancy centers which do not provide abortions.