Supporters and critics mark 30 years of
Roe v. Wade

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(Host) Supporters and opponents of the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion came to the Legislature Wednesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the court ruling.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Roughly 100 pro-choice advocates crammed into the Cedar Creek room at the Statehouse to celebrate the Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade.

Congressman Bernie Sanders told the group that he’s concerned about the future of abortion rights because Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate are interested in placing new restrictions on a woman’s right to have an abortion:

(Sanders) “And 30 years later, we are obliged to stand up and fight and make sure that that historic decision is not overturned, and that the United States government and state governments throughout this country do not nibble away at that basic freedom that women have won.”

(Kinzel) Mary Hahn Beerworth, who is legislative director for Vermont Right to Life, says the thirtieth anniversary of the court decision is no cause for celebration. Beerworth says the top priority for her group during the new legislative session will be the passage of a parental notification bill. But she acknowledges that it will be an uphill fight in the Vermont Senate:

(Beerworth) “We may not make progress, but we are going to keep attention on that issue. Because the fact remains that young girls still in Vermont – unlike 44 other states who have moved to protect those girls – are still walking into those clinics, trying to spare their parents, under pressure from boyfriends, having abortions without really full knowledge of alternatives.”

(Kinzel) The House on Wednesday afternoon, in its first roll call vote of the session, gave its support to a resolution commemorating the Roe v. Wade decision. The vote was 92 to 46. Representative Ann Seibert (D-Norwich) supported the resolution:

(Siebert) “Today we have an opportunity to acknowledge the strength of women and the reserves of courage they must access when making the often heart wrenching, emotional and time sensitive decision of whether or not to complete a pregnancy.”

(Kinzel) But Representative Nancy Sheltra (R-Derby) strongly opposed it:

(Sheltra) “House Resolution 4 deeply offends those of us who recognize the sanctity of each and every human life. Furthermore, HR4 purports to speak for all Vermonters, when it cannot.”

(Kinzel) Sheltra said the resolution divides the Legislature at a time when it’s critical for lawmakers to find common ground on such issues as parental notification.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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