Radical pro-abortion legislation in Vermont could be devastating to women as well as their unborn babies by eliminating criminal charges against anyone who kills an unborn baby.
Writing at The Federalist, Vermont attorney and local news commentator John Klar explained how the current legislation does more than just keep abortions legal and unrestricted for basically any reason up to birth. It also would remove protections for pregnant victims of violence and medical malpractice.
Vermont House Bill 57 passed the state House by an overwhelming majority in February. Similar to a law that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in January, it would recognize abortion as a “fundamental human right” and ensure that the government does not deny, restrict or infringe upon a woman’s “right” to abort her unborn baby. Lawmakers also are considering a state constitutional amendment to ensure that women can still have abortions in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Despite what pro-abortion proponents claim, Klar said these bills would hurt women, not help them. He said they could remove any possibility of justice for women who lose their unborn babies because of another person’s wrongdoing.
In Vaillancourt v. Medical Center Hospital of Vermont (1980), the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state’s wrongful death statute permitted a cause of action against a physician who negligently caused the death of a fetus in utero.
“A viable unborn child is, in fact, biologically speaking, a presently existing person and a living human being, because it has reached such a state of development that it can presently live outside the female body, as well as within it,” said the Court.
Later, he explained how the legislation could change that for pregnant victims in Vermont:
Vermont’s legislature is poised to enact the most abortion-friendly legislation in the nation via H.57, and is weighing a first-in-the-nation amendment to the state’s constitution that could include language that the unborn “shall not have independent rights under law.” This would clearly alter the Vaillancourt decision, by erasing that Supreme Court’s existing legal recognition of a wrongful death claim for an unborn fetus. Vermont’s legislature will have then ignored or reversed two state Supreme Court decisions, without any consideration of the rights protected in those cases.
Nothing in Vermont law recognizes the sacredness of the pregnant woman. Recent efforts seek to ensconce abortion procedures––at any stage of gestation, and for any reason––in statutory and constitutional armor. But the pregnant woman’s right to civil recovery for medical malpractice is unaddressed, if not eliminated, and her expectation of justice in the event her unborn child is murdered by a criminal is terminated.
New York repealed similar protections in January in its Reproductive Health Act. Soon afterward, a pregnant woman was stabbed near her Ridgewood home, killing her and her unborn baby. Initially, police planned to charge her alleged attacker with second-degree abortion in the death of her unborn baby. However, police later said the alleged attacker will not face the abortion charge because it “was repealed by the legislature.” It appeared that the attacker targeted the victim’s torso, possibly in a direct attempt to kill her unborn child.
New York and Vermont are not alone. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is backing a similar bill to expand late-term abortions and repeal the fetal homicide law in her state.
ACTION: Contact the Vermont legislature here with your opposition.