"The Catholic Church stands for the protection of all life from the moment of conception until natural death, and therefore opposes abortion in all instances," said the bishop.
This is "not just a matter of faith," but "an issue of human rights."
Bill sponsor Rep. Ann Pugh, (D-South Burlington), said Wednesday night that legislation will "reinforce a woman's right to reproductive health care freedom."
"The most unrepresented person or thing in the world or here in Vermont is a viable fetus that has not yet been born," said bill opponent Rep. Robert Bancroft, R-Westford, the news site WCAX reports. "But it feels pain, it feels love and, unfortunately, we don't regard it as anything until the day it is born."
Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life, told the Washington Times that under the proposed law, notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell could not be prosecuted.
"Planned Parenthood says trust us, and everybody loves Planned Parenthood here. They've dominated the state for decades," she said. "But they're not thinking, or they don't care, that somebody could just move here tomorrow and undercut Planned Parenthood for price and run a Gosnell-like clinic."
In 2013 Gosnell was convicted of three first-degree murders of babies who were born alive at his Philadelphia abortion clinic, which was kept in an unsanitary state and had not been visited by a state regulator in years. One former employee said he saw his staff snip the necks of about 100 babies born alive.
Gosnell was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter for a patient at his facility, a mother who died of a drug overdose.
Eileen Sullivan, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said Gosnell "ran a criminal enterprise, not a health care facility."
"His case makes clear that we must enforce the laws already in existence that protect access to safe and legal abortion," she said, according to the Washington Times. Sullivan contended that abortion regulations "would limit patients' options and lead them to seek treatment from criminals like Gosnell."
A January 2011 grand jury report on the Gosnell case found that inspections of his clinic identified violations but never required corrections up through 1993. With the 1995 transition to a governor who supported legal abortion, the report said, "officials concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions."
Other legislation strengthening legal abortion has passed in New York and Massachusetts. Such legislation is under consideration in the New Mexico legislature.
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