- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A spokeswoman for Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says he will allow a sweeping no-limits abortion bill to become law, although it may do so without his signature.

The pro-choice Republican governor has ruled out a veto of H. 57, meaning that he will either sign it or allow it to become law with no action, spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley told multiple Vermont news outlets this week.

“It will become law,” Ms. Kelley told Local 22 and Local 44 News. “We have not received the bill from the Legislature yet so that’s all I can confirm at this time.”

The bill would give Vermont the most expansive abortion law in the nation, making abortion a “fundamental right,” allowing the procedure until birth, and forbidding state agencies from interfering with access to “reproductive health services.”

“Governor Scott has always been pro-choice and he has said he will not veto the bill,” said Ms. Kelley.

Democrats said the bill merely codified the status quo, given that Vermont has no legal restrictions on abortion, as the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision faces legal challenges from red states.

Mr. Scott acknowledged at a press conference that some constituents are “uneasy” about the sweeping legislation, which won final approval May 13.

“What I’m feeling from some of the reaction that I’m receiving from many constituents across the state that they’re just uneasy about this, even though this is what we’re doing right now, there’s nothing that’s changing,” Mr. Scott said in Vermont Digger. “It’s just codifying what’s in practice.”

Vermont Right to Life had launched an email and phone campaign urging Mr. Scott not to sign the bill while acknowledging that the state legislature had the votes to override a veto.

“H.57 goes well beyond Roe v. Wade,” said the pro-life group on Facebook. “H.57 is the most radical pro-abortion legislation in the country.”

The Women’s March Vermont cheered Mr. Scott for “keeping his word and supporting unrestricted access to abortion.”

Democrats, who control both houses of the state legislature, beat back Republican amendments, including measures to impose some limitations on late-term abortions and require parental consent.

The legislature also began the process of enshrining abortion rights into the state constitution earlier this month by approving Proposal 5, which must still be passed by the next General Assembly and then the voters.

The Vermont bill comes in sharp contrast to legislation narrowing the abortion window approved this year in eight red states, including an Alabama bill signed last week that effectively bans abortion, which supporters described as a Roe challenge.

Such bills are expected to be hit immediately with injunctions as the cases make their way through the court system. A Kentucky fetal-heartbeat bill has already been stayed.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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