Vermont’s new abortion bill is under fire from pro-life advocates as it would effectively sanction late-term abortion procedures and bar prosecution of “any individual” who performs or attempts an abortion.
The bill, named H. 57, which went before the state’s House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, was introduced just after New York and Virginia came under fire for bills making it easier to perform late-term abortions and – as in Virginia’s proposal – even allowing abortions up until the birth.
While Vermont already has one of the most lax state laws when it comes to abortion, the newest bill aims to codify the access to abortion in writing.
The bill would bar regulations that restrict “an individual’s right to choose” and ban the prosecution of “any individual” for performing or attempting an abortion, the Washington Times reported.
An addition to the main bill, S. 25, also notes that health care workers who perform a legal abortion procedure cannot be “subject to any civil, criminal, or administrative liability and penalty.”
Pro-life advocates say the bill, if passed, would cause more harm as it would invite abuse of the laws. They cited Kermit Gosnell, a former doctor who was convicted of killing three infants at his Philadelphia clinic.
Mary Hahn Beerworth, Vermont Right to Life executive director, told the Times that under the proposed law, Gosnell would be untouchable by the authorities. “There’d be nothing we could do about it,” she said.
“Planned Parenthood says trust us, and everybody loves Planned Parenthood here. They’ve dominated the state for decades,” she added. “But they’re not thinking, or they don’t care, that somebody could just move here tomorrow and undercut Planned Parenthood for price and run a Gosnell-like clinic.”
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, insists the new measure would actually protect against abortion providers like Gosnell.
“Kermit Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, not a health care facility,” Eileen Sullivan, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, told the newspaper.
“His case makes clear that we must enforce the laws already in existence that protect access to safe and legal abortion," she added, "and we must reject misguided new laws that would limit patients’ options and lead them to seek treatment from criminals like Gosnell."