Howard Dean Misspeaks About Doctors and Vermont Abortion Law

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Howard Dean Misspeaks About Doctors and Vermont Abortion Law

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 18, 2004

Washington, DC ( — In a recent interview with People magazine, Howard Dean and his wife both said they worked for Planned Parenthood in Burlington, Vermont during their medical school days. Howard Dean claimed neither performed abortions, in part, because, as internists, they are not allowed to perform abortions in Vermont.

"I don’t have a moral problem [with performing abortions]," Howard Dean said in the interview, "but neither of us is trained to do abortions. We’re both internists. Internists don’t do abortions. … It would be malpractice if we did."

Apparently the former governor needs to check his home state’s abortion law.

Vermont is one of only two states, including Montana, that allows non-physicians to perform abortions and, in 1998, more than half of the abortions performed in Vermont were performed by non-physicians.

"Dean’s comments are baffling in light of the fact that non-physicians routinely perform abortions in Vermont," said Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life.

According to Beerworth, "The state reporting form indicated that these abortions were done by physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and others."

In Vermont in 1998, for example, 758 abortions were performed by M.D.s or D.O.s, 455 were performed by Physician Assistants, 638 were performed by nurse practitioners and 18 were performed by "Others."

There is no information available to the public about the qualifications of those who are providing abortions under the category of "Others."

"If it would be malpractice, according to Dean, for a medical doctor to perform abortions in Vermont, then why isn’t it malpractice for miscellaneous [abortion] clinic personnel to perform them," Beerworth said.

"There is no legally mandated training program, and, apparently, no legal barriers to overcome for anyone performing abortions in Vermont. For Howard Dean to imply that he did not have the opportunity to perform abortions while he was in Vermont is ridiculous," Beerworth explained.

This isn’t the first time Dean has played loosely with the facts on abortion.

Last year, Dean was caught embellishing a story about a pregnant teen who came to his doctor’s office.

In 1998, 183 girls under the age of 18 had abortions in Vermont. Of those, 89 were performed by physicians, 94 by non-physicians.

Although abortion statistics were collected from 1999 through 2001, the Vermont Health Department has refused to release it. In 2002, the Health Department decided to no longer collect the information.

A January 2000 Wirthlin poll found that Vermont residents don’t support non-physician abortions. The poll showed that 75% opposed the use of non-physicians to perform abortions.

Related web sites:
Vermont Right to Life –