Statehouse Headliners: Proposed VT law would protect lab rats; no protection seen for human fetuses

By Guy Page

In 2012, UVM Professor Bindu Pinnikar wrote in a scholarly article that “fetal tissue transplantation into animal models such as rodents is a highly charged and controversial topic, with ethical, moral and socio-political implications that are more powerful than other human- and animal-based research.”

She is right, of course. For many years, the research community has debated this practice on the ethical grounds of its harmful implications to the fetus. But the Vermont Legislature is poised to do an about-face with research ethics. Some lawmakers are less concerned with fetal rights and are more concerned about the lab animals. Vermont Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P -Chittenden), would protect vertebrate animals — including lab rats and mice — from being used for non-medical research. At the same time, House Bill 57 would decree that throughout the entire pregnancy, “the fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law.”

Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

A fetus without “independent rights under Vermont law” seemingly would be fair game for research and experimentation if both doctor and mother agree. A plain reading of H.57 would deny a living, viable creature with human DNA and a beating heart the same legal protection S.16 would give to a rat.

“The effect of this bill would be to enshrine in the law the unrestricted right to kill a child for any reason, up to the moment of birth. Abortion for sex selection purposes, for organ harvesting, for medical research or experimentation, or even for eugenics will all be beyond the reach of the law,” attorney Deb Bucknam of Walden said in a guest editorial in the January 28 Caledonian-Record. “This bill also makes it legal for an aborted child who is born alive to be killed after its birth.”

The federal government is lukewarm about banning fetal research. Federal law prohibits direct sale of fetal tissue but in practice allows compensation for tissue donation.  Some states see this as a loophole. According to the National Council on State Legislatures (NCIL), many states have passed laws explicitly banning fetal research. Consider the law in Florida: “No person shall use any live fetus or live, premature infant for any type of scientific, research, laboratory, or other kind of experimentation either prior to or subsequent to any termination of pregnancy procedure except as necessary to protect or preserve the life and health of such fetus or premature infant.”

Vermont has no law limiting or banning fetal research.  Neither has such a bill been introduced into this Legislature, nor even publicly discussed.

Instead, the Vermont Legislature seems more interested in protecting vertebrates of the non-fetal persuasion. To avoid any potential confusion or loophole, S.16 explicitly excludes the fetus (developing backbone notwithstanding) from its protected class of animals:  “’Animal’ means a living vertebrate nonhuman animal.”

H.57 will get a public hearing from the House Human Services and Judiciary committees 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Vermont Statehouse. Speakers are allotted two minutes, and sign-up begins at 4 p.m.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

7 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: Proposed VT law would protect lab rats; no protection seen for human fetuses

  1. This law could label the state of Vermont, amongst the rest of the world that has a conscience, as barbaric and inhabited by heathens. Although many residents oppose abortion with it’s many facets, we will be lumped in with the proponents of H.57. The pagan worshippers of Baal were well known for the live sacrifices of their children.

  2. I am for the humane treatment of ALL animals. And I absolutely hate those who abuse animals. Not too wild about hunters, either. Slob hunters…. there’s a difference. The Dems have show they are the Party of Evil. The Party of Infanticide. These people are sick.

  3. At last!!!!!!! The Dem/Lib/Progs are being open and honest with us, rats are to be treated more humanly than humans.

  4. DemonRATS protecting their kin, what’s next making devil worship mandatory in school ? Satanic rituals in the legislature? The Trump Derangement Syndrome in these little stompy feet leftist snotflakes is getting out of hand.
    Wait till Bitter Ginsburg’s coffin makes an appearance $hit will really hit
    the fan.
    Liberalism is a Mental Disease

  5. Last I heard we were vertebrates, although I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps we have come invertebrates of the Blattidae family in Montpelier. These invertebrates are characterized by a flattened body, rapid movements, and nocturnal habits and including several household pests, species cucaracha.

    God help us please.

    When are we going to come together and right this ship as Vermonters? Seriously…this is absolute insanity and there is no moral or scientific defense, NONE.

    We need to come together, we have a right as citizens of the United States, the freedom of assembly. Those of us that share the same goals…..need to chart a proper course. If we think the DNC and RNC are going to save us we are sorely misguided at best.

    We are a small state, we’ve been run over, indoctrinated, hit again, stolen from, lied to, ignored, left for dead by those of our greater country. But that doesn’t preclude us from getting back on our own two feet. Working together in harmony. When we absent of hate, we can heal, we can change our direction. It can start with a small group, a dozen is enough. Then you invite friends, then you educate others. If we let the worldly things rule us we’ll continue running around in circles, fighting, arguing, striving for power.

    If we turn and face a new direction, face each other in love, joy and peace, we’ll be working in, working with a true spirit that can bring about the good fruit we all seek. Otherwise, we’re gonna’ get those rotten apples that have been sitting at the bottom of your tree since August and they aren’t gettin’ any better! T

    The choice is ours to make.

  6. State sanctioned murder for new borns but lord don’t even look crossways at a rat.
    Brought to America and Vermont by the Demonrat party and now we know the rest of the story.

  7. You just can’t make this foolishness up !!

    Now we have one of our Liberal Democrats who wants to save ” Rats ” and then you have a
    gaggle of Liberal legislators supporting, that it’s Ok to rip out a full term Baby, where do we get
    these People ??

    Our state is in Debt, Infrastructure has broken, Drugs are rampant and all these people can come
    up with is Killing Babies and Saving Rats……………… God Help Us !!

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