Vermont House this week ponders apology for eugenics and sterilization, considers increasing access to contraception

By Guy Page

General Housing & Military Affairs Committee on Tuesday will hear testimony on JRH 7, a resolution apologizing for Vermont’s history of state sanctioned eugenics and sterilization, sponsored by Rep. Kate Webb (D-Shelburne).

It reads:

“In 1925, UVM zoology professor Henry F. Perkins established the dubious Eugenics Survey of Vermont to measure defective behavior, ‘depravity,’ and ‘immorality,’ and it targeted members of Abenaki bands, Vermonters of mixed racial or French-Canadian heritage, the poor, and persons with disabilities. The General Assembly adopted 1931 Acts and Resolves No. 174, ‘An Act for Human Betterment By Voluntary Sterilization,’ to prevent the procreation of individuals belonging predominately to these groups. This eugenically inspired legislation resulted in the sterilization of Vermonters, often without their fully informed voluntary consent, and the devastating impact on the lives of the sterilized individuals and their families was irreversible.

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“On June 21, 2019, the University of Vermont issued a formal statement of sincere apology for its ‘unethical and regrettable’ eugenics role, and the General Assembly, on behalf of the State of Vermont, should issue a similar apology.

“Now therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the General Assembly apologizes and expresses its sincere sorrow to all Vermonters and their families who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned and eugenically inspired sterilization.”

Complete listing of bills, topic in House Committee this week

Also on the subject of birth control, the House Human Services Thursday will discuss two bills expanding contraception. “I think this will be an exciting bill that folks will support,” Chair Ann Pugh (D-South Burlington) told the House Democratic caucus today of H.663, sponsored by Rep. Francis McFaun (R-Barre Town) and other members of her committee.

Vermont Right to Life and Planned Parenthood testified about H.663 in committee last week.

“It has nothing to do with abortion,” Pugh said. “It has to do with preventing the abortion….When Right to Life testified they didn’t quite understand what is current law and where we are going.” The bill is “not creating new mandates,” she insisted.

According to its introductory statement, H.663 would (quoted verbatim):

  1. require health insurance plans to cover all methods and forms of contraceptives without cost sharing.
  2. require school districts to make free over-the-counter contraceptives available to all secondary school students
  3.  Direct the Department of Health to coordinate with stakeholders to make free over-the counter contraceptives available in a variety of settings statewide.

Written and oral testimony provided to Pugh’s committee last Friday by Vermont Right to Life policy analyst Sharon Toborg of Barre shows a hands-on parental understanding of the status of contraception in schools:

“Speaking now as a parent, in my local school district, the Barre Unified Union District, condoms are available to students in grades 7–12. I have asked for information about what would happen if a child under the age of 15 asked for condoms, given Vermont’s sexual assault statute. I have not received an answer. The materials the school distributes with the condoms includes an information sheet about sexting, making it very clear that any nude photo of a child under 18 could be considered child pornography, which is always illegal. However, it does not make it clear that sexual activity involving children under 15 is always against the law.

“The sexuality indoctrination my child received at Spaulding High School was basically a free advertisement for Planned Parenthood. The web-based assignments had links to Planned Parenthood, and constant reminders that they are the ones to go to for services and parents can be kept in the dark. One assignment given presented the scenario that two kids wanted to have sex, but did not want to get pregnant. Students were asked to describe 3 ways the kids could have their wants and needs met.”

Other testimony opposing H.663 last Friday included the Alliance for Defending Freedom, and a Vermont Law Review article by Theresa Stanton Collett entitled “Protecting Our Daughters.”

See Vermont Daily Chronicle’s “In Committee This Week” for other bills and issues of interest under discussion by House committees:

  • Homeless bill of rights
  • Stormwater parcel fee
  • Gender balance on UVM trustee board
  • Global Warming Solutions Act
  • Health impact of commercial cannabis
  • Woodside, Middlesex secure youth facilities
  • Menthol cigarette ban
  • Prostitution legalization study
  • Reclassifying property offenses
  • EV fees, weight-based vehicle registration.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports at the Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Image courtesy of TNR
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4 thoughts on “Vermont House this week ponders apology for eugenics and sterilization, considers increasing access to contraception

  1. All education by parents for their kids have been taken over by the Gov schools. Cradle to grave care taking of all by the Government. Will they be involved in the conception process (?), after all, they “legally” can terminate a baby after birth, Dictate what subjects they are exposed to in the gov schools systems. Create a welfare state so no one has to work and everything is free including food. Make a living environment wherein one doesn’t have to think.

    What an utopia. Flatlander Montpelier thinking and drive.

  2. Vermont Legislators, trying to clear their ” guilt-ridden minds ” over past legislation from
    years ago, on eugenics sterilization tragedy, so they can sleep better !!

    Our current ” brain trust ” in Montpelier, figures this bill JRH 7 will clear the air on this
    tragedy Nope, it will not change history, but maybe we learn from our mistakes, things
    they think are good at the time ???

    Years from now a new cast of characters in the statehouse will be saying the same about
    our current policies like H57 Vermont’s Abortion Bill, another tragedy for an agenda !!

    Eugenics law targeted “‘idiots’, ‘imbeciles’, ‘feeble-minded’ or ‘insane’ persons” residing in
    state institutions, maybe Montpelier’s ” Golden Dome” current residents, are a little scared.

    Liberals, what a joke.

    • That last sentence makes a good point, I wonder if the people under the “golden Dome” will get it?

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