Vermont Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Parental Notification on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Vermont Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Parental Notification on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 28, 2006

South Burlington, VT ( — A Vermont judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by pro-life advocates upset that the city of South Burlington did not put a measure on the May 2005 ballot about parental notification on abortion. The pro-life citizens said they wanted the vote to have the city council urge state lawmakers to approve a notification requirement.

South Burlington resident Agnes Clift and eight other pro-life people filed a lawsuit after the city council refused to allow a notification vote.

Chittenden Superior Court Judge Ben Joseph sided with the city in its request to throw out the lawsuit saying the abortion notification issue is not something that falls under local jurisdiction.

According to a Burlington Free Press report, Judge Jospeh admitted the petition for the vote was filed on time and contained the requisite number of signatures. However, he said "there is considerable doubt as to whether the subject matter of the requested article is of a nature that would require inclusion in the warning."

The Free Press reported Joseph cited four other decisions in which local officials were not required to hold special meetings and said those developed a legal precedent.

Clift told the Burlington newspaper she expected the decision and had planned to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

"We always hoped it would go to the Supreme Court," Clift said, because "Superior Court rulings tend to not carry a lot of water." She said a state Supreme Court case would also give the issue more press.

Clift told the newspaper she and the other residents wanted the city council to urge lawmakers to support the notification requirement because the state legislature wasn’t moving on a bill to do it.

"When all other means have not worked, citizens should have a right to be able to petition their grievances," Clift said.

City Council Chairman and state Sen. Jim Condos told the newspaper the judge made the right decision to allow city votes only on city issues.