By Guy Page
Make that seven Democratic/Progressive Vermont legislators highly ranked by Planned Parenthood whose seats were “flipped” by voters in favor of Republicans Nov. 3. And, all six House members also supported the Global Warming Solutions Act.
Vermont Daily reported Nov. 16 that Republicans picked up the seats of six 2019-2020 lawmakers who had been strongly endorsed by the Planned Parenthood of Vermont Action Fund: Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex Orleans), and Reps. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman (P-Middletown Springs), Dave Potter (D-Rutland-2), Carl Demrow (D-Orange-Caledonia), House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-Grand Isle) and Chip Conquest (D-Newbury). All but Conquest, who did not seek re-election, lost to Republicans in the Nov. 4 general election.
All but Johnson were named PP of VT Action Fund “champions” due to their 100% rating, Johnson, who as Speaker did not vote on the key bills on which the ratings were based, nevertheless received an endorsement.
Upon further review, one more defeated Democratic lawmaker should be added to that list.
Although lacking a perfect 100% rating, Democrat Charen Fegard of Berkshire scored highly with 97%. She voted for both H57, a state law providing unlimited access to abortion, and Prop 5, a proposed Constitutional amendment providing the same. She, too, was forced out of office by voters, who chose Republican Paul Martin in her place.
The two abortion bills weren’t the only controversial legislation in which the House members listed above voted in lockstep. Every House member listed above also voted to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of H688, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Rodgers voted against H688 in the Senate.
The recount requested by Johnson is scheduled to be held Nov. 20. Only two lawmakers with low PP ratings were replaced with pro-legal abortion candidates: Bob Bancroft of Westford, who was defeated, and Linda Myers of Essex Junction, who declined to run for re-election.
In the upcoming session, the Legislature is likely to vote again on Proposition 5, the proposed constitutional amendment granting “reproductive autonomy” to all Vermonters regardless of age and circumstances. It is premature to predict how the lawmakers who replaced the six PP-endorsed legislators will vote on abortion.
In the Senate, Rodgers lost to Republican Russ Ingalls. Ad advertisement for Ingalls in the October 28 Barton Chronicle proclaimed, “I am Prolife.” Republican Joseph Parsons, who won the election for the seat held by Conquest, told Vermont Daily via email this week that “because the wording of the amendment is so broad, that in my view, it permits late term abortions for purely elective reasons, I see myself voting against the proposition.”
The electoral losses came after a 2019-2000 session in which abortion was the centerpiece of legislative action. Planned Parenthood ‘Champions’ were selected for complete loyalty to the organization’s position on H57, a law requiring total access to abortion, and Prop 5, a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine reproductive autonomy as a human right – regardless of circumstance and age.
“At a press conference held in the State House on January 22, 2019, Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Tim Ashe and other Vermont legislators joined representatives of Planned Parenthood to declare that abortion would be the centerpiece of the 2019 legislative agenda,” Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life, said today. “Johnson and Ashe made good on that promise by allowing enormous amounts of legislative committee time, state resources, public hearings and numerous hours of floor debate to dominate the session with passage of both H. 57 and Proposal 5.”
During contentious rollcalls on abortion legislation, Planned Parenthood publicly stated it was closely watching the votes of all legislators and would take appropriate action. It may be that the hundreds of pro-life Vermonters who attended public hearings, only to have the Legislature vote against their wishes, were doing the same.
“Public hearings on both pro-abortion issues filled the State House with hundreds of pro-life Vermonters who objected to the promotion of unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout pregnancy,” Beerworth said. “I am not disappointed that both Johnson and Ashe are now out of office.”
A Planned Parenthood press statement appearing in the Nov. 11 World newspaper did not address the losses, but instead focused on the election of pro-legal abortion candidates at the state level, including Gov. Phil Scott, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, Attorney General TJ Donovan, Secretary of State Jim Condos, and Treasurer Beth Pearce.
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