Vermont lawmakers mull bills to protect abortion providers | News

MONTPELIER – Vermont lawmakers are witnessing two bills aimed at protecting healthcare workers who provide abortion and gender-affirming healthcare in Vermont from legal and disciplinary action by states that restrict or prohibit these practices.

The bills were passed seven months after Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court after states restricted access to such treatment or took steps to protect access to such treatment.

In Vermont, the two bills would define reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare as legally protected healthcare activities. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, seven states have enacted similar so-called abortion protection laws, three of which cover gender-affirming care.

“Across the country, we have seen a dramatic increase in threats and acts of violence against health care providers and clinics, particularly those providing reproductive health care including abortion and gender-affirming care,” Dr. Lauren MacAfee, an obstetrician-gynecologist and family planning specialist in Burlington, told the Vermont House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

She supports the House bill that would, among other things, protect such health care providers from civil arrest and make it a misdemeanor to use force or threaten force, or to use physical disability to interfere with anyone receiving or providing such health care. The bill would also prohibit a public agency from cooperating with an interstate investigation aimed at holding a person civilly or criminally responsible for obtaining such care, or an entity for providing it.

Vermont officially amended the state constitution to include the Reproductive Freedom Amendment to protect reproductive rights including abortion. Republican Governor Phil Scott signed the constitutional amendment into law in December. Legislators also passed legislation in 2019 guaranteeing the right to an abortion.

The other bill, currently in the Vermont Senate committee, would protect healthcare providers from professional disciplinary action and insurance premium changes related to such care.

MacAfee said it’s critical to do everything possible to protect and support healthcare providers who are not only burning out, tiring and abandoning medicine for other professions, but also “with the added concerns of their safety and ability to handle the increasing numbers.” of patients are burdened by the number of patients who travel from abroad to receive safe, legal healthcare,” she said.

Last fall, Planned Parenthood of New England began tracking the number of out-of-state patients seeking care in Vermont, said Lucy Leriche, the organization’s vice president of public policy. Though she said she hadn’t seen the most recent data, she told lawmakers that in early fall there was a roughly 10% increase in out-of-state patients seeking abortion treatment in Vermont.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

| |
Back to top button