Vermont Introduces Bill Affirming Right to Abortion

The bill would officially repeal pre-Roe v. Wade statutes that criminalize abortion.

The bill would officially repeal pre-Roe v. Wade statutes that criminalize abortion. An hourglass and gavel via Shutterstock

Vermont state senators introduced a bill Tuesday to officially decriminalize abortion in the state and recognize a woman’s right to have an abortion.

The bill, S 315, introduced by state Sens. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden), Christopher Bray (D-Addison), Sally Fox (D-Chittenden), Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden), Dick McCormack (D-Windsor), and David Zuckerman (P-Chittenden), would repeal old Vermont statutes still on the books that criminalize performing abortion or advertising about abortion services.

While those statutes pre-date Roe v. Wade and are thus unenforceable, the new bill states that repealing them would “serve as an important legislative action in support of a woman’s reproductive rights as well as help a health care provider to perform an abortion without fear of criminal liability.”

A similar but stronger bill, H 508, was introduced in the Vermont house last year but did not pass out of committee. That bill not only struck down the dated provisions, but also specifically guaranteed a woman’s unrestricted right to terminate her pregnancy.

New York is also likely to challenge outdated state laws on abortion this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo affirmed his support on Wednesday for all ten points of the Women’s Equality Act, which failed to pass the generally anti-choice state senate last year because one of the points would have codified Roe v. Wade into state law. The legislature is expected to take up the measure again this year.