Vermont House gives preliminary approval to abortion rights bill

Published: Feb. 20, 2019 at 11:11 AM EST
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The majority of lawmakers in the Vermont House say they support a new abortion bill.

In a preliminary vote Wednesday night, members voted 104-40 in favor. It's a decision that took more than six hours of working through a series of amendments.

Proponents say they want to ensure abortion remains a right for women in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. They say the proposal would do nothing more than ensure that women's access to abortion continues as available now.

"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," said Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, the bill's sponsor.

But opponents say the legislation could make it possible for women to have abortions right up until the moment of birth.

"The most unrepresented person or thing in the world or here in Vermont is a viable fetus that has not yet been born. But it feels pain, it feels love and, unfortunately, we don't regard it as anything until the day it is born," said Rep. Robert Bancroft, R-Westford.

The House is set to take a final vote on the measure Thursday afternoon.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a similar bill last month codifying rights laid out in federal abortion rulings.