Vermont to Enact Abortion Rights Law, Gov. Scott's Aide Says | Off Message

Vermont to Enact Abortion Rights Law, Gov. Scott's Aide Says


  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott intends to allow a sweeping abortion-rights bill to become law, spokesperson Rebecca Kelley said Monday night.

According to Kelley, the Republican governor "has ruled out a veto" of H.57, which codifies the right to an abortion and prohibits public entities from interfering with a woman's right to choose. "It will become law," Kelley said.

Scott has not, however, decided whether he will sign H.57 or let it become law without his signature. Though the Vermont House and Senate have both passed the measure, the legislature has not yet formally transmitted it to Scott's office.

"He plans to/wants to read the final bill in full and deliberate further from there," Kelley said in a written message. NBC5 reporter Stewart Ledbetter first reported the news earlier Monday evening.

Scott has long described himself as pro-choice, but he has faced pressure over the fate of H.57 since telling reporters last Thursday that he hadn't made up his mind as to whether he would sign the legislation or several other key bills. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and other advocacy groups have scheduled a Statehouse rally Tuesday evening to call on Scott to sign the bill.

Vermont's new abortion protections come as several other states, including Missouri, Alabama and Georgia, move to restrict or ban the procedure. The new Vermont law is not likely to have an immediate effect on the availability of abortions in the state, but advocates of H.57 have argued that it could become necessary if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision protecting abortion rights.

In addition to passing H.57, the legislature this year initiated the process of enshrining abortion rights in the Vermont Constitution. While the proposed constitutional amendment found broad support in the House and Senate, the earliest it could take effect would be November 2022.

When enacted, H.57 would be among the most comprehensive abortion-rights laws in the country. It recognizes "the fundamental right of every individual who becomes pregnant to choose to carry a pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion." It also recognizes the right to "choose or refuse contraception or sterilization."

The legislation prohibits public entities from denying or interfering with such rights and bars state and local law enforcement from prosecuting those performing abortions.

Upon receiving the bill, Scott will have five days to decide whether to sign it.