Montpelier, Vt. – Today, the House gave final approval to H. 89, known as the “Shield Bill.” The bill provides protections for patients and providers from prosecutions and investigations by states that have criminalized reproductive and gender-affirming care that is legal in Vermont.
Following today’s 130-13 roll-call vote, the bill will now move to the Senate for further consideration. After passage, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, Rep. Martin LaLonde, Chair of the House Committee on Judiciary, and Rep. Taylor Small spoke on the importance of passing the bill:
“The Shield Bill reinforces our ongoing efforts to protect the rights of Vermonters in making personal health choices,” said Speaker Krowinski. “Safe access to reproductive care has always been a top priority, and Vermonters showed their resounding support for reproductive rights last November when they voted to enshrine it in our constitution. However, we recognize that access to reproductive and gender-affirming care is under attack in many states across the country. Now is our time to use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that Vermonters are protected.”
“Banning or restricting reproductive and gender-affirming health care is contrary to Vermont’s public policy. Vermonters understood the threat that the U.S. Supreme Court posed to reproductive liberty and wisely started work on protecting these rights four years ago. That work culminated this past November when voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 5,” said Chair of the House Committee on Judiciary, Rep. Martin LaLonde. “The legislature has also recognized the right to gender-affirming health care. We are committed to exploring all available options to ensure that transgender youth and their families are safe in Vermont to make the best decisions for themselves, in consultation with their health care providers.”
“At a time when states across our nation seek to restrict or criminalize access to abortion care and lifesaving healthcare for transgender people, I am grateful that the House took swift action to establish these critical protections for both patients and providers,” said co-sponsor of H.89, Rep. Taylor Small. “This legislation will save the lives of Vermont residents and those who seek refuge from states that are in the process of actively criminalizing essential care. As some state legislatures pass unprincipled laws restricting parents’ ability to care for their children and putting transgender young people in harm’s way, Vermont’s strong support of evidence-based gender-affirming healthcare — and our assertion that access to such care is a right — is powerful.”
“It’s imperative that the federal government act on this,” Speaker Krowinski said. “A patchwork system of states providing care leaves many individuals hundreds of miles away from access to life-saving services. While it is unlikely that Congress will act on this issue, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that everyone who lives in or visits our state can get the support they need and deserve. To those outside Vermont: know that you are welcome here, you have allies here, and when it comes to making your personal health choices, the decision is just that: yours.”
You can learn more about the H.89 – an act relating to civil and criminal procedures concerning legally protected health care activity here.
For Immediate Release
February 10, 2023
Conor Kennedy, Office of the Speaker