Letter: Reproductive rights need to be protected
To the Editor:
In reference to the Banner story on Jan 30 describing the visit of Bishop Coyne to Bennington and his comments on H.57: This bill offers much-needed protection for women's reproductive rights and health in the state, given the encroachment on those rights by the federal government and the likely further erosion of those rights by the current right- wing majority on the Supreme Court. We applaud the legislators who support these protections founded on Roe v. Wade and upheld by later court decisions. We hope this bill becomes law and ask our local legislators to vote in favor.
The bill correctly gives individuals the right to determine their own reproductive health and decision-making in relation to contraception, sterilization and abortion, and correctly gives the rights of women priority over the rights of eggs, embryos and fetuses in the eyes of the law.
The Banner story quotes Thomas Dee, CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, saying he's fearful Vermont will pass this law, similar to the one just passed in New York, and asking the Bishop for leadership, presumably in a fight against this bill.
While Mr. Dee certainly has a right to his personal religious beliefs and to state those to the Bishop, we'd like to remind him that he's the CEO of a secular health care system, not a Catholic one, as his prior position had been before coming to Vermont. We'd like to remind him that the bill as written correctly prohibits health care providers and facilities from interfering with reproductive choice or restricting abortion access. We expect that despite his personal religious beliefs he will not try to implement those beliefs locally in our healthcare system, but will adhere to this law if so enacted. We expect that if he personally lobbies against this bill he will do so only as an individual and not a spokesman for the healthcare system. We in the community have a right to expect our only available healthcare system will provide the care needed by all of us, not just those who share Mr. Dee's religious beliefs and those of the Bishop.
Dr. Robert Block
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