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New England News

Vermont Abortion Bill Expected To Become Law

Vermont Statehouse
WAMC/Pat Bradley
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Vermont Statehouse (file photo)

It’s expected that a bill guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion will become law in Vermont — with or without the governor’s signature.
The Vermont House last week gave final approval and sent to the governor’s desk H.57, a bill that guarantees the right to abortion in the state.  Rebecca Kelley, spokeswoman for Republican Governor Phil Scott, told MYNBC5 that he has not yet decided whether he will sign the legislation or allow it to become law without his signature. The result would be the same and the law would go into effect.  Messages to governor’s office were not returned in time for broadcast.

During his weekly press conference last Thursday, Scott disagreed with fellow Republican governors who are signing measures limiting women’s reproductive rights.  "That’s extreme, in the opposite direction. You know I’m pro-choice. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I think we’re seeing in real time nationally the fears of many what’s happening across our country in individual states. So I believe we need to protect a woman’s right to choose.”

Scott said he is weighing the emotional nature of the issue before deciding whether he will sign the bill or let it become law without his signature.  “For me again believe in a woman’s right to choose and I believe that government should stay out of it. I don’t believe that this is something that we should be involved in. This is a time when this is between a doctor and a woman and we should not be involved in this. So I guess I’m just trying to take the emotion out of it as much as possible and reflect on that. I think what I’m feeling from some of the reaction that I’m receiving from many constituents across the state that they’re just uneasy about this. Even though this is what we’re doing right now. I mean there’s nothing that’s changing. It’s just codifying what’s in practice.”

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan expects both the abortion bill and a measure that would impose a 24-hour waiting period for the purchase of handguns to be challenged if the governor signs them.  “I support both those bills. I hope the governor signs both of them. Yes I think given the legal challenge to the gun bill from last year I would anticipate another legal challenge. As to the abortion bill, which I support, I would anticipate a legal challenge and we will vigorously defend both those bills should they become law.”

The abortion bill awaiting Governor Scott’s decision is separate from another proposal that would amend the state constitution to guarantee reproductive rights.

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