Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Article 22 would ‘usurp parental rights’

Just one year ago, Vermont Family Alliance testified against Article 22. The following questions were asked and not answered until H89 was introduced on January 24, 2023: 

Article 22 set Act 35 as the de facto standard, allowing any surrogate to usurp the role of parents, guided by unknown processes and adults, where the surrogates are protected?

Does “individual” in Article 22 apply to minor boys and girls? 

Does “reproductive autonomy” extend further than abortion? 

Can minors be transported across state lines into Vermont to access these constitutional protections?

H89 answers with a resounding yes to each of these questions regarding minors, a year too late for Vermont voters to understand the intent of Article 22. H89 is now on the fast track to expand Article 22 “personal reproductive autonomy,” shield the system, usurp parental rights, and leave minors unprotected. 

“This bill proposes to define legally protected health care activity to include reproductive health care services and gender-affirming health care” through a shield law, according to sponsors of H89. 

Vermont Family Alliance has the following questions for the H89 Senate Committee. 

Is H89 expanding the “reproductive” rights outlined by Article 22?

Does H89 set the precedent that the Vermont State Legislature will have the authority to indefinitely expand Article 22 without voter approval? 

Like Article 22, why doesn’t H89 set age limits?

Why doesn’t H89 define “person(s)” in 1151 DEFINITIONS?

What is H89 protection?

Since there are no states in the U.S. proposing bans on “gender-affirming” care for adults, it seems fair to conclude that the H89 shield law is focused on protecting medical- and mental-health care access and insurance coverage for such care for minors both inside and outside of Vermont. 

Will the Vermont Medical Society, protected by H89, determine minor age consent limits and parental involvement under “standard of care” in perpetuity? 

For example, Jessa Barnard, Executive Director of the Vermont Medical Society, claimed in her committee testimony, that not including parents is the exception. She said, “Our members, at least not up to this point, have not recommended that to be changed.” Her response only confirms minors have the autonomy to act apart from parental consent under H89 and the Vermont Medical Society dictates “standard of care”.

Vermont Family Alliance’s issue with H89’s lack of parental consent and lack of minor protections are outside the scope of H.89, as Jessa Barnard, Executive Director of the Vermont Medical Society, claimed during her testimony, why is there express language on page 4, lines 18-19 that “health care services do not include conversion therapy as defined by 18V.S.A.8351,” of which 18.VSA.8351 pertain specifically to minors? 

18.VSA.8351 was also codified in Act 35 (2017) allowing minors to consent to any health care services, even psychotherapy, without parental involvement and without age limits — prohibiting conversion therapy. 

Does the Vermont Medical Society’s “standard of care” regarding “gender-affirming” care for minors constitute a parental mandate?

Is it a conflict of interest or common for the Vermont State Chief Justice to testify on H89 or other statutes that will potentially come before his court?

Will H89 insurance mandates cover persons deciding to de-transition back to biological sex?

Why did H89 expand the Secretary’s Confidential Address Program to include minors? “(a) An adult person, a parent, or a legal guardian…” “(ii) is a person providing, assisting another person in obtaining, or obtaining for themselves reproductive health care services or gender-affirming health care services in this State” 

Will the Senate Health and Welfare Committee bring in balanced experts regarding minor brain development and capacity to consent, adverse effects of hormone blockers, and surgeries, such as sterilization?

Carol Kauffman

Vermont Family Alliance

Addison

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