Vermont lawmakers look to further protect abortion patients and providers

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:04 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Abortion policies are in the hands of the states following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Now, Vermont lawmakers are looking to provide legal protections for people who seek and perform abortions and gender-affirming care.

Reproductive health care is once again on the agenda at the Vermont Statehouse.

Last fall, Vermont voters passed Prop 5, enshrining the right to an abortion into the state Constitution.

Other states such as Texas and Florida, however, are moving to ban abortions and gender-affirming care.

“It’s a whole new world of legal liability and risk for providers who provide reproductive health care and patients who are trying to receive care,” said Lucy Leriche of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

A bill working its way through the Legislature would shield patients and providers in Vermont from laws in other states.

“We essentially wouldn’t cooperate with an investigation or with another state in terms of helping them prove the case,” said Rep. Martin LaLonde, D-South Burlington.

It’s a big priority for Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, but not everyone is on board. Vermont Right to Life says the bill, if enacted, could have unintended consequences.

“They’re not looking at how this might impact minors crossing state lines without parental involvement or to avoid a parental involvement law in their state as New Hampshire has, and they’re not looking at how this benefits a human trafficker,” said Mary Hahn Beerworth of Vermont Right to Life.

This past fall, Planned Parenthood saw a 10% uptick in people from out of state seeking abortions in Vermont.

However, advocates are clear-eyed about how far this bill would go.

“The reality is we’re Americans and we cross state lines all the time to do things. And I want to make sure that it’s not a panacea, it’s not a silver bullet that’s going to solve all of our problems,” Leriche said.

A separate bill in the Senate would protect providers from losing their licenses in Vermont if another state charged them for a procedure performed here.