Vermont House passes abortion rights bill

Published: Feb. 21, 2019 at 6:10 PM EST
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Lawmakers in the Vermont House said yes Thursday evening to a new abortion rights bill. The count was 106-36.

This was the second round of votes. The vote was 104-40 in favor of the bill Wednesday night in a preliminary vote.

Now, after two full days of trying to make changes to the bill, it has officially passed.

The bill, H.57, was sponsored by about 90 House members who fear a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. They want to ensure state law safeguards abortion rights.

"This bill is really about saying that we trust Vermonters with their own health care decisions in the privacy of their own doctors' offices. I'm really pleased that we had such a strong vote on this bill. I think it really speaks to what Vermonters believe and what Vermonters want in terms of access to health care," said Rep. Mitzi Johnson, D-Vt. House Speaker.

Opponents said the bill is extreme because it doesn't have any restrictions.

"This is not about limiting access. This is about protecting children. Protecting those who are not yet at the point of having full maturity to make a decision, and in fact, aren't permitted to make other health care decisions," said Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield.

Six amendments were brought to the table Thursday afternoon, all by Republicans. All were shot down. One that lawmakers spent the most time on required parents of someone under the age 18 to be told about the procedure.

"To require a young woman to turn to her family is not necessarily in her welfare," said Rep. Robin Chestnut Tangerman, P-Middletown Springs.

That proposed amendment failed on a count of 37-109. And that outcome was similar to other amendments brought forward Thursday.

"It astounds me that you cannot in school give a child an aspirin because they might have a negative reaction to it, but at the same time it is perfectly fine to tell a child, 'If you are pregnant and want an abotion, that's great. Don't worry about telling your parents,'" said Rep. Marianna Gamache, R-Swanton.

Now that the bill has passed, it heads to the Senate. It's expected to come up there in mid-March.

This week, five other states have done the opposite of Vermont -- lawmakers moving to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.