by Carol Kauffman
American independence was not gained through great sacrifice for the government to circumvent the rights and responsibilities of parents.
In a January 27, 2019 memo on then-H57, (former) Statehouse legislative counsel Brynn Hare wrote, “In Vermont, there is an unrestricted legal right to get an abortion regardless of age or marital status. There is no requirement that a person notify or get permission from a parent, guardian, or spouse prior to getting an abortion.”
Nevertheless, the Vermont legislature moved forward to pass H57, now Act 47 (2019), into law, codifying what had been decades-long practice in our State.
The recent Supreme Court decision that has overturned Roe vs Wade and returned regulation of abortion to the States will have no impact in Vermont, nor change this government’s overreach into the family.
- Vermont has allowed unknown surrogate parents to navigate abortions for minors without parental knowledge since 1972, one year prior to Roe vs Wade. Fifty years of “minor consent” without parent involvement.
- Act 35 (2017) states, “A minor may give consent to receive any legally authorized outpatient treatment from a mental health professional… As used in this section, ‘outpatient treatment’ means psychotherapy and other counseling services that are supportive.” Five years of “minor consent” without parent involvement.
- Act 157 (2020): “This bill proposes to require health insurance plans to cover all methods and forms of contraceptives without cost-sharing. It would also require school districts to make free over-the-counter contraceptives available to all secondary school students and would direct the Department of Health to coordinate with stakeholders to make free over-the-counter contraceptives available in a variety of settings statewide.” Two years of minors’ consent without parent involvement.
- Vermont doctors networking with UVM have a history of requiring minor consent, ages 12-18, for parents to have access to medical records. MVP Health Care recently changed its policy. “MVP must have the Authorization to Disclose information form on file from the minor, 12-18 years old, to disclose most information to a parent or guardian.” One more minor consent without parental responsibility.
- House bill 659 2022 was introduced which states, “This bill proposes to allow a minor who identifies as transgender to consent to receive hormone blockers and other nonsurgical, gender-affirming care and treatment without requiring parental consent.” Legislators continue to pursue minor reproductive consent law and parent usurpation.
Vermont Family Alliance believes the current state government has not left the interpretation regarding Article 22 minor consent and parents’ rights and responsibilities to future courts to decide, but rather, has signaled its intentions very clearly. We therefore ask:
1. Could unrestricted access to abortion without parental knowledge since 1972 be used as legislative intent and practice regarding Article 22 for minor consent, and parental knowledge in future court challenges?
2. Could Act 35 (2017) and Act 157 (2020) be used as legislative intent and practice regarding Article 22 for minor consent, and parental knowledge in future court challenges?
3. Will Vermont legislators be able to continue to define “reproductive liberty” without parental knowledge, such as the introduced House Bill 659 (2022) if Article 22 is approved by the voters in November?
4. Will Vermont legislators be able to bring reasonable protections for minors, such as parental knowledge for minors and court oversight and protections under the “least restrictive means” in Article 22?
The November ballot will be sent to Vermont voters in September with the following Vermont Constitutional amendment proposal; “Sec. 2. Article 22 of Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution is added to read: Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty] That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
Parents are being kicked out of the village regarding their children’s reproductive values and experiences. Questions need to be answered. Article 22 will continue to erode the rights of parents and remove protections for children. Article 22 will continue to allow unknown adults to usurp the role of parents and put our children in harm’s way under the protection of Article 22 constitutional amendment.
Carol Kauffman is president of the Vermont Family Alliance.