What follows is my response to the Vermont Right to Life Committee Questionnaire I was sent yesterday. As I’ve previously posted about, these responses are my own personal opinions, and do not reflect the opinions of the citizens of Washington County. It is possible that if elected, I might vote in a different way from what I’ve indicated below.
Dear Ms. Beerworth,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questionnaire on the issues in which your organization is interested. I hope you don’t object, but rather than simply checking “yes” or “no”, I have elaborated on several of my answers below. I should clarify my platform as a candidate: I intend to vote in the Senate as my constituents in Washington County would have me vote. I would act as an advisor and a representative in the full sense of the word. As a majority of my constituents might feel differently than I do, it is possible that my future voting record would not line up exactly with the answers I give below. I encourage you to read my Plan on my website at http://vermontelection.org/2012/06/04/jeremys-plan/ to fully understand what I am offering.
Candidate for Vermont State Senate
Currently, Vermont has no regulations or restrictions on abortion. There is no requirement that women be offered information about abortion prior to the procedure being done, and there is no parental involvement requirement before abortions are performed on minor girls. Nearly all abortions are performed in free-standing facilities, often by non-physicians.
The Vermont Right to Life Committee (VRLC) believes that unborn children should be protected by law, and that abortion should only be permitted if there is no other way to prevent the death of the mother. Furthermore, VRLC believes that until the day that all human life is protected under the law, public policy in Vermont should always encourage childbirth over abortion.
1. Which one of the following five statements most closely represents your view?
A. Abortion should not be legal in any case.
B. Abortion should not be legal except if necessary to prevent the death of the mother.
C. Abortion should be legal only in cases of rape, incest, or to prevent the death of the mother.
D. Abortion should be legal with some restrictions.
E. Abortion should be legal with no restrictions
I would choose option D, with the restrictions including licensing, guaranteeing standard medical practices, and disallowing very late-term abortions that are not necessary to prevent major injury to the mother.
2. Do you consider yourself a “pro-life” candidate?
No, as indicated by my answer to the previous question.
Our goal is to understand each candidate’s position, beyond the labels of “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” The following questions pertain to legislative proposals that have been introduced in the Vermont Legislature or are expected to be considered in the future.
Note: On questions 3-10, a “yes” response indicates agreement with the position of VRLC.
3. Do you support a parental notification requirement before an abortion is performed on a minor girl, with special provisions for situations of abuse?
I support a parental notification requirement, with conditions. Similar to laws currently in place in Delaware, I would support notification in cases where the mother is under 16, where notice may also be given to a relative over the age of 25 (such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle), and a doctor can bypass the notification requirement in limited circumstances.
Many women who undergo abortions will later regret that they were not given full information about their unborn children beforehand. Thirty-one state legislatures have passed informed consent laws that are in effect today, but Vermont has not.
4. Do you support a Woman’s Right to Know law, also known as “informed consent”, requiring that a woman receive written information about the medical risks associated with abortion, alternatives to abortion, and scientifically accurate medical facts about the development of her unborn child before an abortion is performed?
Yes, insofar as abortion is a medical procedure and has possible side effects, I support providing information about medical risks to the woman. Not to compare abortion to other procedures, but it is fairly common practice for medical professionals to provide similar information before a surgery – my most recent experience being a wisdom tooth extraction. As long as the information provided is factual and consistent with current scientific understanding, I support all efforts to provide additional information for any medical procedure.
Fetal Homicide Legislation
When a pregnant woman is a victim of domestic violence, her life and the life of her unborn baby are at risk. In some U.S. cities, the leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide. In August 2009, the lives of twin babies were ended as the result of a head-on crash in Bennington caused by a driver who was on drugs and later pleaded guilty to gross negligent driving. Yet under current VT law, the driver could not be charged with harm caused to the twins because they were not born at the time of the crash. Federal law and the laws of 35 states recognize both the mother and her unborn child(ren) as victims in cases of criminal violence and negligence. Vermont has no such law.
5. Do you support a state “Fetal Homicide” law that would recognize both a pregnant woman and her unborn baby when they are victims of a crime?
If such state a law would not be redundant with the Federal laws already enacted, I would support it.
Partial Birth Abortion
In a partial birth abortion, the abortionist delivered the baby feet-first until the entire baby’s body was outside of the womb, except the head. He then punctured the baby’s skull, inserted a suction tube, and removed the baby’s brain. Most partial-birth abortions were performed in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy, but some were performed even later. A federal law was passed in 2003 that bans this procedure. The ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 in its Gonzales v. Carhart decision. Twenty-eight states have passed laws to prohibit partial-birth abortion, including New Hampshire, which recently passed a State ban on the procedure thus making State enforcement of the federal ban possible.
6. Do you support passage of a ban on partial birth abortions in Vermont?
I would support disallowing very late-term abortions of this nature that are not necessary to prevent major injury to the mother, consistent with Federal law.
Taxpayer Funding of Abortion
For over 30 years, the federal government has prevented the use of federal taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in limited situations to protect the life of the mother or in a case of rape or incest. By State court order, Vermont has been paying, with state tax dollars, for abortions performed for any reason for all women eligible for Medicaid and Dr. Dynasaur. However, under the Green Mountain Care law, the new state health care proposal, it is unclear whether the state will force taxpayers to fund all elective abortions, even for those who can afford to pay. The Green Mountain Care law mandates coverage for primary care, including “family planning services,” but does not specify what services are to be covered.
7. Do you oppose defining abortion as a method of “family planning”?
I don’t oppose defining abortion as a method of “family planning”, but I do support clarifying the law to specify what services are to be covered.
8. Do you oppose any further expansion of abortion funding with taxpayer dollars under Vermont’s Green Mountain Care law?
I believe (with the exceptions that I described in my answer to question 1) that abortions should be safe and legal medical procedures covered under the Green Mountain Care law.
End of Life Issues
The pro-life movement has always sought to protect not only the unborn from abortion, but also the vulnerable born, especially older people and people with disabilities, from doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia.
9. Do you oppose legalizing doctor-prescribed suicide in Vermont?
As I believe in personal liberties and the right of every person to self-determination, I support the legalization of “Death with dignity”/”Physician-assisted suicide”. Polls also suggest that a large majority of Vermonters support the recent bill that stalled in the Vermont Senate.
In 1973, Congress acted to protect the right of health care providers to refuse to participate in the practice of abortion. Recently, those rights have come under attack at the federal level, with some arguing that doctors and nurses should be forced to participate in providing abortions. Vermont is one of three states that does not guarantee conscience protection for medical personnel.
10. Would you support the inclusion of a conscience clause to protect medical personnel from being forced to participate in abortions under the Green Mountain Care law?
Doctors and nurses should not be forced to participate in the abortion procedure, but in general, I don’t support state laws that are redundant with Federal laws, unless there is a compelling reason for the overlap. I believe that there is enough to do in the Legislature without spending time enacting laws with no net positive effect.