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Vermont governor signs unrestricted abortion into law

Law grants special rights to abortion providers, opponents say

Despite an estimated 700 Vermonters opposing H57, the unrestricted abortion law, at a February public hearing, the Vermont Legislature passed it; Monday, June 10, Gov. Phil Scott signed it into law. Gov. Scott also vetoed S169, a gun control bill that would have required a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

By Guy Page
June 11, 2019 – Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Monday, June 10 signed into law H57, the unrestricted abortion bill, and vetoed S169, a gun control bill that would have required a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

Gov. Scott’s signing of H57 drew a swift rebuke from Vermont Right to Life, the state’s leading opponent of legalized abortion.

“By putting his signature on H. 57, Governor Phil Scott endorses unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy.” stated Mary Hahn Beerworth, Executive Director of Vermont Right to Life (VRLC), said in a press release yesterday. “His signature signals his preference for protecting the business of abortion over other life-affirming options in Vermont statute.”   

The VRLC release continued: “While Scott has always called himself pro-choice, throughout the years he has expressed support for parental involvement legislation for minor daughters considering an abortion, concern for abortions occurring in the later in months of pregnancy, and shielding taxpayers from funding them. With his signature, Gov. Scott has rejected any regulation of abortion, abortionists, and abortion clinics, including measures to protect the health and safety of girls and women. Scott has embraced without reservation the agenda of the powerful pro-abortion lobby.”

Gov. Scott explained in a statement yesterday: “This legislation affirms what is already allowable in Vermont – protecting reproductive rights and ensuring those decisions remain between a woman and her health care provider.” VRLC Policy Analyst Sharon Toborg disputed the accuracy of that statement: “H. 57 goes beyond Roe v. Wade, and may well be the most radical anti-life law in the nation. H.57 grants abortion providers and clinics the right to sue the State if they are not allowed to establish a new abortion practice in Vermont. Unlike providers of any other medical procedure, H. 57 grants abortion providers this private right of action against the State.”

Regarding his veto of S169, Gov. Scott cited gun control laws and regulations he championed last year and said, “With these measures in place, we must now prioritize strategies that address the underlying causes of violence and suicide. I do not believe S.169 addresses these areas. Moving forward, I ask the Legislature to work with me to strengthen our mental health system, reduce adverse childhood experiences, combat addiction and provide every Vermonter with hope and economic opportunity.”

Between the two bills, the Legislature held 23 rolls calls: 16 for H57, and seven for S169. An S169 veto override attempt could take place in the 2020 session, although it is unclear if it has sufficient support. It cleared the House 82-58. H57 passed the House 106-37, so a veto might well have been overridden. However, the governor could have allowed the bill to pass into law without his written and verbal endorsement.

Gov. Scott’s office also reported that yesterday he also signed the following bills into law:

  • S.7, social service integration with Vermont’s health care system
  • S.31, informed health care financial decision making and the consent policy for the Vermont Health Information Exchange
  • S.41, regulating entities that administer tax-advantaged accounts for health-related expenses
  • S.73, licensure of ambulatory surgical centers
  • S.112, earned good time
  • S.131, insurance and securities
  • S.134, background investigations for State employees with access to federal tax information
  • H.132, adopting protections against housing discrimination for victims of domestic and sexual violence
  • H.135, the authority of the Agency of Digital Services
  • H.292, miscellaneous natural resources and energy subjects
  • H.508, approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of Bennington

H.514, miscellaneous tax provisions H.536, the education finance bill, was signed June 4.

The following bills approved by the 2019 Legislature also have been signed into law:

  • Act 45 Family court jurisdiction of juveniles up to age 25
  • Act 44 State hemp program
  • Act 43 limiting prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment
  • Act 42  capital construction and State bonding
  • Act 41 public education for fair and impartial policing
  • Act 40 miscellaneous: alimony, medical marijuana, juveniles, campus sex crime task force
  • Act 39 no statute of limitations for sexual exploitation of minor
  • Act 38 town clerk recording fees and town restoration and preservation reserve funds
  • Act 37 repealing the statute of limitations for civil actions based on childhood sexual abuse
  • Act 36 small probate estates
  • Act 35 the regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides
  • Act 34 eligibility for farm-to-school grant assistance
  • Act 33 approval of the dissolution of Rutland Fire District No. 10
  • Act 32 sealing and expungement of criminal history records
  • Act 31 Required reporting on hydro, efficiency, net-metering; pipeline excavation rules; district thermal heat funding; regulation of energy storage; small hydro rates
  • Act 30 professions and occupations regulated by the Office of Professional Regulation
  • Act 29 taxation of timber harvesting equipment
  • Act 28 taxation of electronic cigarettes
  • Act 27 increasing the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age
  • Act 26 Rural Health Services Task Force
  • Act 25 miscellaneous changes to the State’s retirement systems
  • Act 24 acknowledgment or denial of parentage
  • Act 23 Farm-to-Plate Investment Program
  • Act 22 restricting retail and Internet sales of electronic cigarettes, liquid nicotine, and tobacco paraphernalia in Vermont
  • Act 21 the regulation of polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking and surface waters
  • Act 20 miscellaneous banking provisions
  • Act 19 allowing reflective health benefit plans at all metal levels
  • Act 18 Indigenous Peoples’ Day replacing Columbus Day
  • Act 17 determining the proportion of health care spending allocated to primary care
  • Act 16 aggravated murder for killing a firefighter or an emergency medical provider
  • Act 15 miscellaneous provisions affecting navigators, Medicaid records, and the Department of Vermont Health Access
  • Act 14 technical corrections
  • Act 13 increasing the number of examiners on the Board of Bar Examiners from nine to 11 members
  • Act 12 the time frame for the adoption of administrative rules
  • Act 11  international wills
  • Act 10 a uniform process for foreign credential verification in the Office of Professional Regulation
  • Act 9 the disposition of the remains of veterans
  • Act 8 sexual exploitation of a person in law enforcement officer custody
  • Act 7  second degree aggravated domestic assault
  • Act 6 fiscal year 2019 budget adjustments
  • Act 5 extending the moratorium on home health agency certificates of need
  • Act 4  lead poisoning prevention
  • Act 3 captive insurance companies and risk retention groups
  • Act 2 limiting senatorial districts to a maximum of three members
  • Act 1  ethnic and social equity studies standards for public schools

published by Guy Page, Page Communications
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