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Climate As A Public Health Emergency
The smell was what I noticed first. Not unlike when a neighbor is burning brush down the road. “Down the road”, though, turned out to be smoke from wildfires in Manitoba and California that were staining our skies last summer. That was the headline.
The body of the story dove deeper into the effects and how fires in Canada and California created air quality here, labeled “Unhealthy”. Advisories then ensued, to people with asthma, allergies or other breathing problems to stay indoors. In Vermont.
To date most Climate headlines have focused on floods, fires and droughts. Now, here’s Climate as a Public Health Emergency, jumping ahead and reminding us, is there anything more importat than having clean air to breathe?
We now know wildfire smoke can trigger respiratory events thousands of miles away. Reports show flooding can kill from drowning and create huge property damage but also increase rates of suicide and mental health problems. We now also see that warmer winters expand the range of disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks. A recent study in the medical journal The Lancet, finds that human-caused climate change is worsening human health in just about every measurable way, and world leaders are missing an opportunity to address it.(This report is available for free online- https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)01787-6/fulltext)
It is timely then that the Vermont Climate Council is wrapping up work on a public report. The Council looks to set standards for carbon reduction and resilience, and the Legislature will be ready to push legislation to implement its report. That report is scheduled for release in December with input from the public needed. Coincidentally, Vermont will be getting it’s part of the big Infrastructure bill, Congress just passed to make the investments in a cleaner future.
In the next Session, Climate will certainly be a headline issue. There’ll be tons more to do, though, which is why all 26 Standing Committees of the Legislature are lining their priorities up and preparing for next session. Of course, as Covid keeps grabbing us by the ankles and refusing to loosen its grip, we’ll have to deal with the health issues there. We’ll also be working to make sure the economic Recovery from Covid keeps rolling. And, as importantly, Racial and Social Justice will also be on the front burner as the Me, Too, BLM, and LGBTQ+ movements - and the need for them- haven’t gone away.
The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg once said, "Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." With those words as guidance, I’m running for re-election and ask for your support in the November 8 General Election.
As Vermont's part-time citizen Legislature 18 week session has adjourned for 2022, it’s clear there’s still more future work to do. The after-shocks of Covid are still rumbling in our economy, health care and education landscapes. Oil Monopolies are holding us hostage with their wild price increases, even as Climate Change keeps reminding us it’s going to get worse. Continuing the work to move us away from a fossil-fuel economy is an essential issue.
Whatever issue comes up, though, voters can reliably count on me bringing the values of Community (looking out for others) , Common Sense (especially for Gun Safety Laws) , and Justice,( as in Justice for All- no exceptions) . To see broadly, that there is a big picture in any question, and it’s made up of what’s happening at the ground level, for hard working, caring Vermonters.
With the Politics of Grievance being used to turn back the clock on progress, especially on Women’s Rights, Climate Action, and Racial Justice, I want voters to know I will continue to stand up to shine a light to make Progress, with Justice. And, I assure the voters of this district, I am not only "Woke", but I AM WIDE AWAKE! For me, ‘woke and wide awake ‘, is being stable, open-hearted, open-minded, and assuringly, reliable.
Among the accomplishments of Progress, with Justice;
-helping put Prop 5, Reproductive Liberty, on the ballot in November because I trust women to make choices about their bodies.
-fighting for working families, struggling to fill their gas tank, while billionaires are playing in sandboxes full of cash to send big boy, toy rockets to the heavens and buy and trade companies like they’re playing monopoly with real money. This year, we've provided some family friendly tax relief with the Child Tax Credit and increasing the deduction for Social Security.
-working with the Legislative Climate Solutions Caucus, to craft and implement policies in Transportation and Home Heating, to address what can feel daunting about climate- and fuel prices.
-being a founding member of the Racial-Social Equity Caucus in the Statehouse as Vermont and our nation see a changing demographic. With People of Color, Refugees and other marginalized groups coming to our state, I want to be as welcoming to them, as Vermonters were to me and my family, when we showed up here 40 years ago.
There isn't a time when I go outside Vermont, that something doesn't spark me to think of it as a "Vermont Appreciation trip".
I can't think of better people or a better place to be, than Vermont.
Or, better work to do, than helping keep Vermont moving forward.
I want to help keep our Brave Little State as a leader in making Progress, with Justice. That's why I'm running to represent you in the Vermont House and ask for your vote in the November 8 General Election.
The Facts About Prop 5/Article 22 -
by George Till, MD
There has been a lot of misinformation circulated regarding Prop 5/ Article 22 which will be voted on November 8 by the citizens of Vermont. As both a member of the Legislature, and a physician practicing OB/GYN for 40 years, I have a unique perspective on the issue. Additionally, I serve as the Division Chief of General OB/GYN at UVMMC. It is physicians in this Division who provide abortion services at UVMMC. I know the realities, policies, and health implications surrounding abortion in addition to the politics of the issue.
Passage of Article 22 by popular vote on November 8 will be the last step of a multi-step process to amend the Vermont Constitution. The change was passed in the 2019-2020 legislative biennium. As required, it was passed again by the legislature in the 2021-2022 biennium. The popular vote is the final step.
Why is it important to make this constitutional change when we already have laws protecting reproductive rights in Vermont? The laws can be changed at any time by the legislature. In the current biennium, there were no less than 5 bills which would have placed restrictions on reproductive liberty in Vermont. One was crystal clear. In the intent section of the bill, it states: “This bill proposes to narrow the right to reproductive choice”. Without the proposed constitutional amendment, there will be ongoing attempts to restrict reproductive rights in each and every legislative session.
One of the most common pieces of misinformation around Article 22 is that it will prevent any abortion restrictions and “enshrine pregnancy terminations up to the time of birth” in the Vermont Constitution. This is blatantly and completely untrue.
It does not mean that there will be no restrictions on abortion procedures in Vermont. What will be enshrined in our Constitution is that politicians, the legislature and Governor, will not determine what restrictions will be placed on abortion procedures. That will be left, AS IT SHOULD BE, to the hospitals, professional medical organizations, and the Board of Medical Practice, to set standards of care with which providers must comply in Vermont. The Board of Medical Practice can revoke one’s license for a single episode of “failure to conform to the essential standards of acceptable and prevailing practice”. As such, practioners are held to evidence-based standards. Additionally, state regulations require reporting every termination to the state, and if beyond 20 weeks, with a completed death certificate which requires extensive background information about the parents and medical situation.
The decision about specific medical procedures does not belong with the Legislature. It should be made between an individual and their healthcare provider in the medical setting. There is not currently, nor will there be due to Article 22, any provider or facility in Vermont doing elective terminations beyond the gestational age of 21 weeks, six days, 22 weeks being the currently accepted threshold of viability. Very rarely are terminations done after 21 weeks 6 days and those are done only in a hospital setting at UVMMC. Hospitals are very highly regulated and the UVMMC maintains clear guidelines prohibiting elective terminations from 22 weeks onward.
A pregnancy termination beyond 21 weeks, 6 days is rare and would only occur in very specific circumstances, including for severe fetal anomaly, a fetal condition incompatible with life, or a dangerous, possibly life-threatening maternal health reason.
If a termination is requested beyond 21 weeks 6 days, an ethics consultation must be obtained to review the indications before the induction of labor or termination can be done. If the Ethics Committee does not agree, the termination is not done. In 2020, a total of 18 terminations were done in Vermont after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
There is also misinformation being spread about safety and health implications of abortions. Abortion is an extremely safe medical procedure. Less than 0.3% of abortion patients in the United States experience a complication that requires hospitalization. The risk of dying from a legal abortion in the first trimester—when over 90% abortions in Vermont are performed—is less than four in a million, making pregnancy termination one of the safest medical procedures.
According to the CDC Carrying a pregnancy to term is 33 times more likely to result in maternal death than having an abortion.
There is also substantial misinformation being spread about the long term health effects of having a pregnancy termination. An expert panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2018 concluded that having an abortion does not increase a person’s risk of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The National Cancer Institute published a report categorically dismissing any causal link between abortion and breast cancer. Abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, congenital malformation, or future preterm or low-birth-weight delivery.
Research shows that those most likely to seek abortion care, including women of color, poor women and those with chronic health conditions, are also more likely to encounter serious complications during pregnancy
It is no surprise that the states with the highest maternal mortality in the country are the states with the most non-evidence-based restrictions on pregnancy terminations and contraception. The result of legislatures restricting access to reproductive rights is an overall increase in maternal morbidity and mortality.
A recent publication showed the maternal mortality rate increased most significantly in states that enacted the most restrictive abortion laws. In 2017, states that restricted abortion had a maternal death rate that was nearly double those that had passed laws protecting access to abortion. In 2019, researchers looked at maternal mortality data from 38 states and Washington, D.C. and found that gestational limits on abortion significantly increased maternal mortality. They found that laws restricting abortion based on gestational age increased maternal mortality by 38%.
Banning abortion nationwide would lead to a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths overall and a 33% increase among Black women, according to research from the University of Colorado Boulder.
One only needs to look at the state of Indiana as an example. In 2010, Indiana had a maternal mortality rate below the national average. In 2011, Indiana began their war on women, and in particular Planned Parenthood, causing 16 of 28 clinics to close. The state has placed multiple non science-based restrictions on clinics, abortion providers and on women seeking an abortion. The result is a maternal mortality rate which nearly tripled. It now stands at about double the national average, commensurate with the rates many 3rd world countries. Current maternal mortality rate in Indiana is 43.6/100,000
Meanwhile, in California, rated as the most abortion tolerant state, we see the lowest overall maternal mortality in the country, less than 1/10 of the rate of maternal mortality in Indiana at 4/100,000.
THIS IS THE MAIN POINT: Pregnancy terminations are very safe procedures, and the earlier in pregnancy they are done, the safer they are. The result of legislatures restricting access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, is a large overall increase in maternal morbidity and mortality. This is why passage of Article 22 is so important.
Windham 4 District-
Putney & Dummerston
Rep. Mike Mrowicki
Vermont House Speaker Jill Krowinski took the time to meet with the two WIndham 4 Reps, Mike Mrowicki and Michelle Bos-lun recently. Here's a link to the interview on BCTV.
Here's another link to an interview with Rep. Copeland -Hanzas, Chair of House Government Operaions Commiteee, and also Co-chair of the Legislative Climate Solutions Caucus
Please turn to the Legislative Update page for reports on the 2021 session.
Also,Please also feel free to be in touch with questions, suggestions or requests for help, esepcially if you're experiencing problems with food, shelter, health care or safety- or any problem thatfor which you just don't know where to turn.
I can try and find ways to find help or cut through the red tape that might be holding up vital ssitance for you and your family.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 802-387-8787
Here's a link to the January Monthly Online Community Meeting with
Rep. Mike Mrowicki and Rep. Michelle BosLun with special guest,
Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas,
Co-Chair of the Legislative Climate Solutions Caucus