I am writing in response to Pete Gummere’s letter in the September 5 Messenger, in which he castigates the UVM Medical Center for so-far-unproven allegations that the hospital violated new protections for health care providers. Those 'protections' were generated by the Trump administration’s Dept. of Health and Human Services’ oxymoronically titled ‘Office of Civil Rights.’ Under these new rules, health care providers cannot be compelled under any circumstances, emergency or otherwise, to provide patient care during procedures to which they themselves object. Such procedures include, but are not limited to, abortion.

It would appear that the “Office of Civil Rights” holds religious rights of conscience over patients’ rights of care. One can only speculate how the ‘Office of Civil Rights’ might treat some non-Christian issues of conscience; for instance the wearing of an hijab, or giving care to a patient of the opposite sex.

Mr. Gummere, a Catholic Deacon, has also actively opposed public funding of birth control of any sort, including vasectomies. https://www.vpr.org/post/new-vermont-law-extends-birth-control-benefits-men#stream/0

One can’t help wondering what his opinion is of public funding for the care and feeding of unwanted children. (“Are there no workhouses?”)

He says that the UVM Medical Center has made an “asinine financial calculation" in offering abortion services. I would suggest that this was not a matter for financial calculation, but rather to serve the real needs of the female majority in Vermont, which is consistent with the over-arching mission of the hospital.

If anything could be described as “asinine’ it is a seventy-year-old man of the cloth dismissing the rights of women of child-bearing age to obtain legal and safe assistance with pregnancy termination, which in Vermont is considered a fundamental right.

May I remind Mr. Gummere that slightly more than half of all Vermonters are women, and the vast majority of them support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices.

If Mr. Gummere believes the Catholic teaching that we have been endowed by our Creator with “free will,” surely he would not deprive women of the opportunity to exercise that free will in decisions regarding their own bodies. Under those same principles, it is, I believe, up to the Creator, not to a conspicuously fallible male-dominated hierarchy, to judge those decisions.

Look to your own soul, Mr. Gummere and allow women to look to theirs.

Sue Prent

St. Albans

Michelle Monroe is the executive editor of the St. Albans Messenger. To contact her email mmonroe@samessenger.com.