By Guy Page
A bill declaring a fetus a legal person during the third trimester has been introduced into the Vermont House of Representatives.
H248 “proposes to narrow the right to reproductive choice and confer legal personhood status upon a human fetus beginning at 24 weeks of fetal development prior to birth for purposes of the criminal statutes.”
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Carl Rosenquist (R-Georgia) and co-sponsored by Reps. Lisa Hango (R-Franklin), Mary Morrissey (R-Bennington), Arthur Peterson (R-Clarendon), and Vicki Strong (R-Albany). It was introduced Feb. 11 and sent to the Human Services Committee, where it likely will remain for the 2021-22 biennium. Human Services is chaired by Ann Pugh (D-South Burlington), a strong supporter of unrestricted abortion at all stages of development. Even if Human Services were disposed to approve fetal personhood, House Speaker Jill Krowinski controls the flow of legislation on the House floor. She is a former lobbyist and senior executive for Planned Parenthood of New England, Vermont’s largest abortion provider and advocate.
But despite its unlikely prospects for success, the idea behind H248 – the actual personhood of the unborn, particularly in the third trimester – is supported by science, says Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life.
“Advancements in medical science have dramatically increased the survival rate of babies who are born at 24 weeks gestation. It is not unusual to hear of babies that survive who are born at even earlier stages of development,” Beerworth said. “Here in Vermont, the UVM Medical Center issued a press release after saving triplets born at just 22 weeks and 6 days gestation.”
According to UVMMC, They are “miracle micro-preemies” triplets Cian, Declan and Rowan DeShane, survivors of extremely premature deliveries whose birthdays span not just different days and months, but two different years and decades.
Cian was born first on Dec. 28, 2019. At just 22 weeks, 6 days, he was one of the youngest infants to arrive at UVM Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He weighed only 1.08 pounds, not much more than a 16-ounce bottle of soda.
On Jan. 2, 2020 – five days later – Cian’s identical twin brother, Declan, was born. He weighed 1.47 pounds. Within moments, the boys’ sister, Rowan, entered the world at 1.08 pounds.
Remarkably, each made it through the natural birth process. “When my water broke, I burst into tears because I didn’t think they could survive being born so early. I thought it was all over,” says their mom, Kaylie, who had worked with a fertility clinic to get pregnant.
The triplets left the NICU with respiratory support and monitors but eating all of their foods without issue. As of July 15: Cian was 13 pounds, 1 ounce; Declan was 14 pounds, 11 ounces; and Rowan was 10 pounds. They are hitting all of their milestones — babbling, cooing, laughing, smiling and rolling over, UVMMC said.
Vermont is only one of 12 states to reject fetal personhood for the purpose of homicide, feticide, or as a victim of other crimes. The Vermont Legislature has repeatedly rejected consideration of such legislation despite tragic stories such as the Bennington (Vermont) babies. Kaleb and Harley were the unborn but viable 24 week-old twins who were killed in a car accident after a woman driving impaired on drugs caused the crash that ended their lives. Their mother, Patricia Blair, continues to seek recognition for her twins as human persons who died as unacknowledged victims of a crime, Beerworth said.
Currently, Vermont statutes address specific guidelines for the burial of the remains of an unborn child who died after 20 weeks in utero (Title 18, Chapter 107). In addition, the state requires that a death after 20 weeks gestation be recorded by filling out a “fetal death” form for the Vermont’s Vital Statistics annual reports. The fetal death form asks for the unborn child’s full name, sex, date of delivery, time of delivery and much more.
Not surprisingly, an entirely different form is to be filled out for an induced termination of pregnancy at any stage of fetal development.
“Vermont Right to Life applauds the brave lawmakers who have sponsored H. 248, despite the stranglehold that proponents of unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout pregnancy have on the legislative process in Vermont,” Beerworth said.
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This afternoon, House General will discuss J.R.H. 2 – “Joint resolution sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices.” Nancy Gallagher, Author, “Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State,” is scheduled to testify.
About 100 years ago, the well-meaning Vermont Legislature passed legislation approving the practice of eugenics, championed by a UVM professor in close contact with eugenicist Margaret Sanger, who later founded Planned Parenthood. Time will tell if a future legislature offers an expression of remorse on behalf of its 2021 brethren for ignoring H248 and the idea of fetal personhood.
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