Letter, Opinion

Vermont House passes bill to protect women’s rights in other states

Dear Editor,

The Vermont State House of Representatives closed the week by approving one of the most important bills I believe will come before us this year. 

Vermonters overwhelmingly went to the polls in November and showed they want reproductive freedom and access to abortion protected in our state. Every single community in Vermont approved Article 22, which has now enshrined these rights in our state constitution. 

 Vermont has also consistently been a state where transgender rights are respected and the lifesaving importance of gender affirming care has been acknowledged. In the previous biennium the Legislature approved a resolution confirming this and condemning states that do not follow medically established best practices in regards to such medical care. 

In other states, the rights of women are under attack with draconian anti-abortion laws. In other states best medical practices are consistently ignored and there have been a wave of anti-trans laws targeting transgender children and their supportive families. This is horrifying enough on its own, but some states have also adopted a series of laws that target health care providers in other states who provide abortion services or gender affirming care to residents of their state. This overreach is meant to intimidate and have a chilling effect beyond their own state borders. It is a means to attempt to erode freedoms and prevent important medical care in other states like ours.

 To counter this, the Vermont House of Representatives passed H.89. This is a “shield bill” that clearly establishes that Vermont will not assist such states in any investigations regarding actions in Vermont that they claim violate their anti-abortion or anti-transgender laws, nor will we honor any subpoenas or warrants that may emerge from such investigations in other states.

 In passing H.89 your state representatives have made clear that we will protect our health care providers and be a safe haven for anyone who runs afoul of laws in other states that attack women’s ability to make their own choices about their bodies or attempt to block best medical practices for transgender children. Vermonters can be proud of what this says about our state. 

The bill passed by a large margin in the House: 130-13. Looking at it through a local lens, every Rutland County representative except one voted in favor of this bill. It moves on now to the Senate. I hope both the Senate and the governor act as quickly as possible to approve this bill and get these important protections in place.

Rep. William Notte,

Rutland city

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