Thursday, March 30, 2006

National News Article

The decision on this lawsuit made national news on Lifenews.com :

Vermont Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Parental Notification on Abortion

"Clift told the Burlington newspaper she expected the decision and had planned to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

""We always hoped it would go to the Supreme Court," Clift said, because "Superior Court rulings tend to not carry a lot of water." She said a state Supreme Court case would also give the issue more press.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

29. support

Today (March 28) I joined friends from across the state in Montpelier to lobby our legislators on pro-life issues. Many organizations take one day a year to lobby for their causes and VRLC is no exception. It was a beautiful day and I cannot thank those who expressed thier support for our lawsuit enough. It is gratifying to know there are so many people out there who care about the rights of every citizen to speak out on thier issues.
It was also very enheartening to see so many people who support the dignity of human life.

28. superior court decision

I received notice on March 27 that the Chittenden Superior Court had ruled in favor of the city in the case.

The ruling states, "Under the requested article, the City Council would be advised to ask state legislators to enact certain legislation. The article is of an advisory, non-binding nature, it is also apparent that the requested article does not relate to city business in the sense that it does not address a matter under the general supervision, legal authority or control of the City or of City Voters."

While I may agree with Sheldon Katz, who argued that the city has no authority to lobby, I do not agree that the city has no authority to certify a vote and send it in writing to the legislators, nor do I agree that the City Voters have no right granted by the constitution and the law to use the ballot to express their opinion on critical issues. The article would not have required the City to do any more than send the certified vote in writing to the legislators and it would have allowed the petitioners to do no more than express their opinion. I believe that the superior court ruling is flawed and that I have an obligation to seek an appeal.

As citizens of the state of Vermont I feel South Burlington Citizens have rights afforded other Vermont citizens to act as a Vermont citizen. It is unbelievable that a responsible judge would deny any citizen equal rights under the law. I am disappointed with the judge in this case. I have contacted the other plaintiffs and they agree we should move ahead. Our lawyer seemed disappointed with the judgment and will continue as our legal counsel during the appeal.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

27. letter to free press

Dear Editor;

This year has been an adventure for grass roots activist in Vermont fighting to have our voice heard on parental notification.
This issue is critically important to girls and families who love them.

What parent wouldn’t want to know if their minor daughter is pregnant?
What parent wouldn’t want to be there for her?
Sadly there are a few, but should parents who dearly love their daughters be denied the right to support them for any reason?

We care about girls whose parents aren’t prepared to help and wholeheartedly hope a bypass option will provide needed support for these very vulnerable girls.

Every person helping with the parental notification initiative deserves a great big thank you! From town organizers to the voter who took a moment to vote yes,this was a genuine act of compassion.

The positive results from 18 towns may sound like aweak voice to some.
To those of us who know how difficult it was to give citizens a chance to speak on the issue the muffled sound feels like a mighty roar.

It’s shameful that opponents used every means in their power to disrespectfully silence people who disagree with them.

Agnes Clift

26. vote totals

CALEDONIA COUNTY

Kirby; 24 Yes, 38 No, 62 Total

Sutton; 45 Yes, 48 No, 93 Total

Waterford; 26 Yes, 31 No, 57 Total

CHITTENDEN COUNTY

Milton; 1239 Yes, 612 No, 1851 Total

Underhill; 325 Yes, 359 No, 684 Total

ESSEX COUNTY

Norton; yes on voice vote

FRANKLIN COUNTY

Berkshire; article passed over

Enosburgh; 328 Yes, 120 No, 448 Total

Fairfield; article passed over

Franklin; 42 Yes, 30 No, 72 Total

Montgomery; article passed over

Richford; 61 Yes, 29 No, 90 Total

Sheldon; article passed over

St. Albans City; 773 Yes, 397 No, 1170 Total

St. Albans Town; 743 Yes, 398 No, 1141 Total

ORLEANS COUNTY

Barton; yes on voice vote

Coventry; article passed over

Newport City; 436 Yes, 164 No, 600 Total

Newport Town; 48 Yes, 27 No, 75 Total

Westfield; 54 Yes, 26 No, 80 Total

Westmore; 24 Yes, 16 No, 40 Total

RUTLAND COUNTY

Clarendon; 276 Yes, 169 No, 445 Total

Ira; 73 Yes, 27 No, 100 Total

Mendon; 126 Yes, 85 No, 211 Total

Middletown Springs; 195 Yes, 161 No, 356 Total

Sudbury; 23 Yes, 27 No, 50 Total

West Rutland; 360 Yes, 138 No, 498 Total

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Moretown; article passed over

WINDSOR COUNTY

Chester; article passed over

Stockbridge; article passed over

Windsor; 421 Yes, 239 No, 660 Total


Totals: 5642 Yes, 3141 No, 8783 Total 64.24% in support!!!!

18 wins and 5 losses, 8 tabled.

25. E-Mail from Michele to Guy

Dear Guy,

Great news about Ira!!! I am attaching an Excel document showing the results by town, as well as copying it below. I never had any information from Bakersfield so I don't know if the "vote" there could be incorporated. I get 18 wins and 5 losses, 8 tabled.

Looking at just the five towns where parental notification was defeated, out of 946 votes cast, 443 were in favor and 503 were against, for a vote discrepancy of just 60 votes across the five towns. They defeated it with the support of an average of 53.17% of those votoing.

On the other hand, looking at just the 16 towns that passed the article (not including Norton and Barton where no vote count is available), out of 7837 votes cast, 5199 were in favor and 2638 against, for a support level of 66.34%.

Overall, of the counted votes, we garnered 64.24% of the votes.

Michele

Friday, March 03, 2006

24. Town meeting 2006

The parental notification advisory article has been petitioned and accepted in these Vermont towns:

Barton, Berkshire, Chester, Clarendon, Coventry, Enosburg, Fairfield, Ira, Mendon, Milton, Montgomery, Moretown, Newport City, Newport Town, Richford, Sheldon, St. Albans City, St. Albans Town, Stockbridge, Sutton, Underhill, Waterford, West Rutland, Westfield, Westmore, Windsor



Some Facts About Abortion And Minors In Vermont:

There are no restrictions on the practice of abortion in Vermont, including when minors are involved. Despite some success in 2001, it is still legal in Vermont for an abortion to be performed on a minor girl without her parents’ knowledge or consent, no matter how young she might be.

Many, if not most, abortions in Vermont are performed by non-physicians.

The abortion can proceed even though the abortion provider cannot obtain the child’s medical history without involving at least one parent.

The state-funded Dr. Dynasaur and Medicaid programs pay for abortions—even for minor girls—and the state does not notify parents.

Minors need parental consent in Vt. for ear-piercing, for field trips, for taking Tylenol at school, to obtain a driver’s license, to get a tattoo, or for any surgery other than abortion.

72 percent of Vermonters favor a law to require that a parent be notified before a minor girl has an abortion. (Wirthlin Worldwide poll, January 2000)

If a minor girl is a victim of abuse, a secret abortion and a return to the situation only compound her physical and emotional problems.

Abortions were performed on 112 minors in Vermont in 2003, many without parental knowledge, many performed by non-physicians, many involving surgical procedures. Some young girls were given the RU-486 abortion pill.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

23. Reflection

While at mass tonight it really hit me that I started with the petitions a year ago.

I've been fortunate to be able to wrap myself around this for a year and it has been interesting.

It's time for me to think about where to go from here and to get ready to move on. Why am I not sure that will be easy?

One thing I hope never to forget is that the past and the future are only important if they help us live most fully in the present.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

22. H709

H709, the bill that would increase the number of signatures needed on a petition for revotes and advisory articles was introduced to the Government Operations Committee on February 16 according to the bill's sponsor Shap Smith.

Some members of the committee when asked about the bill seem to have very little interest in it. Others are very interested in working on it.

Two ideas I have heard are;

Let the number increase to 20% but put a cap on the number of signatures needed, say 200.

Significantly increase the number of signatures needed but place it on the number of votes in the last town meeting election.

The crossover deadline is looming. We must be alert.

I am eager to receive comments on this issue.

21. Livin The Vermont Way

Livin The Vermont Way is an excellent publication, which features numerous articles covering a broad spectrum of interests that concern Vermonters. The March/April edition contains not only an opinion by the author of this blog but also one by Sheldon Katz, who has sought status in the lawsuit to oppose not only her but also the City of South Burlington.

The magazine has just hit the newstands across Vermont and has a number of excellent articles.


I would like to apologize to those who read my article. I wrote the article last fall. When it was decided to publish it this spring I failed to change references of "this year" to read "last year". Although much has happened since the article was written it is still timely in view of town meeting day in Vermont.

20. Two moms speak

We are told most girls talk to their parents before they have an abortion. Youth risk surveys paint a different story, only one third of high school girls say they turn to their parents when they are facing difficulties. These moms tell it like it is:

“My daughter was just 16 years old when, under pressure from her boyfriend, she had an abortion. I wasn’t even notified. She coped with high fever and hemorrhaging all by herself. Later, her thoughts turned to suicide. The truth is out now and together we have gone for help. But I’ll never forget that the one day my daughter needed me most I wasn’t there, because I didn’t know.”
A Chittenden County Mom,

“I called the high school one day to leave a message for my 16-year-old daughter. She wasn’t there! She was at Planned Parenthood. She had an abortion and I wasn’t even notified. Planned Parenthood knew, her boyfriend knew, the only one who didn’t know was me - her own mom. My daughter couldn’t get her ears pierced or even take an aspirin at school without my permission. Yet, she had an abortion and I wasn’t even notified.”
A Windsor County Mom

19. Petition Approved by Milton Select Board

Parental Notification Petition Approved by Milton Select Board

We thank the Milton Select Board for unanimously approving the following advisory question for theMarch 2006 Town Meeting ballot:

“Shall our state legislators support legislation that will protect young girls by requiring clinics to notify at least one parent prior to providing a surgical or chemical abortion to their minor daughter, with special provisions to protect girls in abusive situations.”

A minor girl can get an abortion in Vermont without her parents knowledge or consent. The abortion can proceed even though the abortionist, physician or non-physician, cannot obtain the child’s medical history without involving at least one parent.
By contrast minors must have the consent of their parents for school field trips or taking a Tylenol at school. Without Parental Notification, the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren may very well rest in the hands of strangers.

Since society rightfully holds parents responsible and accountable for the behavior, actions, and favorable upbringing oftheir children, justice requires that parents have the necessary authority to fulfill their responsibilities to their children and society.

We began a petition campaign, the Parental Notification Initiative (PNI), early in December to gather the signatures of 5% of Milton registered voters, as required by state law to put a question on the ballot.

Petitioning is a right given to Vermonters by our Vermont Founding Fathers in the Constitution, Article 20 [Right to Assemble, Instruct and Petition]:
That the people have a right to assemble together and consult for their common good to instruct their representatives and to apply to the legislature for redress of grievances, by address, petition or remonstrance.

Thanks to the energy and commitment of many of our Milton neighbors, we procured over 5% of the required signatures, nearly 350 names. Volunteers in many other Vermont towns and cities are conducting petition campaigns. The PNI effort is led by an organization called Caring Vermont Parents,Inc., a registered, nonprofit organization having no ties with any other organization.

The Milton Select Board by agreeing simply to place our question on the Town Meeting ballot showed an exemplary responsiveness to the constitutionally-protected will of hundreds of their constituents. Despite some thoughtful concerns, theBoard voted for open government, providing Milton voters an opportunity to participate and vote on issues important to them, especially when the issues entail threats to their greatest treasures, their children.

Bob and Judy Sekerak
Milton, VT

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

18. Waterbury petition/letter to editor

DATE: 02/20/06
FROM: Joanna Turner Bisceglio, Waterbury Center

Dear Editor:

Petitions Should Have Been Honored

In our democratic tradition, citizens are able to petition our legislature through non-binding advisory items at town meeting, as has been done all over Vermont, over the years – on issues that include nuclear freeze and civil unions.

Citizens gathered the required 5% of Waterbury voters’ signatures on a ‘Parental Notification’ petition, to be placed on the Australian ballot. Despite the support of two out of the five members present members, the Select Board voted to deny this. It was within their authority to honor this legitimate request of the voters of their town – whom they work for. Why the rejection of this one and not the others? Were members voting out of personal opinion, or, as one would hope, out of democratic principle and the precedent that exists for advisory items? Waterbury has honored these requests more than once before!

A recent quote from a select board member was that the petition has ‘nothing to do with the people’. Do you believe that parental involvement in surgical procedures and administration of drugs on minor children has something to do with people? In Vermont, parents have the right to be notified about every single surgery and drug administration on our kids, except abortion. As a parent, I believe good health stewardship indicates that except in grave situations like abuse, parents should be notified of ALL surgical or chemical treatments on our minor children.
We should have had the chance, as twenty-plus other towns in Vermont will this March, to present our legislature with our own opinions in this non-binding, advisory capacity. Our democracy matters, so please contact the select board members and let them know how you feel about honoring open government. All Vermonters, though, should let their legislators know their take on ‘Parental Notification’. Your voice matters.

Respectfully submitted,

Joanna Turner Bisceglio, Waterbury Center