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Voices / Viewpoint

Far beyond Roe v. Wade

The House abortion-rights bill wouldn’t just preserve abortion rights if they are rolled back at the federal level. It would guarantee unrestricted abortions until the moment of birth and leave women vulnerable to medical risks and unintended consequences

Richard Morton, a chaplain serving an elderly populaton on the campus at Vernon Homes, serves as treasurer of the Vermont Republican Party and serves as Windham County’s party chair.

Brattleboro

The Vermont Legislature is considering a significant expansion of abortion in our state under the guise of protecting the right to choose an abortion in the unlikely case that Roe v. Wade is reversed or restricted by the Supreme Court in coming years.

The House bill is entitled “An act relating to preserving the right to abortion.” However, it does a lot more than preserve an existing right.

The bill goes far beyond Roe, guaranteeing unrestricted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy and declaring the fetus to have no individual rights.

As Guy Page writes in his State House Headliners newsletter, “Opponents worry that unrestricted abortion could lead to abhorrent practices such as fetal research and body part sale, even as the Legislature considers bills to protect animals from these same practices.”

The bill would not protect women from coercion by another person into having an abortion they really do not want. There is no provision for disclosure of medical risks or other possible consequences inherent in abortion, especially late-term abortions.

There is no provision to avoid an environment of the sort that let Kermit Gosnell practice by regulating the surrounding facilities, the staffing, the training, the administration of medicines, and who is eligible to perform the procedures. No protections for the woman.

By not protecting the pregnant woman, this bill would inadvertently protect the abortionist from errors, carelessness, or incompetence. The bill also would expand the right to abortion to all nine months, up to the moment of delivery of an otherwise viable child.

I have heard that a late-term abortion is virtually never required even to save the life of a mother. It might be cheaper or faster, but not medically necessary.

* * *

Speaking to the issue of abortion in general, as an opponent of this bill, I do not oppose or seek to diminish women’s rights.

Please note that about 50 percent of aborted children are female. I support their right to their own body and their right to choose. The child has a different DNA structure. Though the child is within the mother’s body, the child is not just a part of it. In fact, the placenta shields both mother and child from each other.

Some might charge me with trying to impose my religion on people of other persuasions. The reality of the legislative process is that a law of any kind will impose the values of a few legislators onto all citizens within its jurisdiction.

Yes, I am pro-life, a Christian, and a chaplain. We all fill many roles in life. All of them inform our worldview and hopefully add value to our contributions to the culture. That is why dialogue can be so helpful when considering difficult issues.

And let’s admit, too, that when something is true, it is true regardless of who is a proponent or opponent.

In her book When Is It Right to Die?, Joni Eareckson Tada, a minister to people with disabilities, writes: “And gradually, though no one remembers exactly how it happened, the unthinkable becomes tolerable. And then acceptable. And then legal. And then applaudable.” She was writing about euthanasia, but the quote certainly applies to abortion.

Citizens, please call your legislators to express your opinion on this legislation. Their contact information is available at legislature.vermont.gov.

Lastly, I thank God and this nation’s founders for the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights in establishing citizen rights, and The Commons for providing opportunities for citizens to exercise those rights.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #496 (Wednesday, February 6, 2019). This story appeared on page D3.

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