Pro-Voter Choice Constitutional Amendment | News

In November, Vermont residents will vote on the Reproductive Freedom Amendment, which would enshrine the right to legal abortion in the state Constitution, after a House vote in favor of the proposal passed 107-41 on Tuesday. .

An amendment to the Vermont Constitution is put before voters after it is passed by the state Senate and House of Representatives in two consecutive legislative sessions. In this case, the amendment, also known as Proposition 5, or Prop 5, was approved by the Senate in 2019 and 2021 and the House in 2019 and again on Tuesday.

If passed in the November general election, the amendment will become part of the Vermont Constitution.

The amendment would amend Chapter 1, Section 22 of the State Constitution to read: “An individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the freedom and dignity to determine one’s own life course. life and should not be denied or violated unless justified by a compelling decision”. state interest achieved by the least restrictive means”.

The discussion on the amendment lasted about two hours before the vote.

Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, explained that the proposal would “ensure personal reproductive freedom as a fundamental right.”

“Since 1992, U.S. Supreme Court decisions have begun to dismantle the reproductive freedom protections recognized in Roe v. Wade. The court began by modifying the standard review it used to analyze state laws, placing restrictions on the individual’s right to choose. The amended standard has led the courts to uphold state laws infringing reproductive rights and the standard protective reproductive rights could be further weakened,” she said.

Pugh said the most abortion restrictions have been enacted in various states in 2021 since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

“We can no longer rely on the federal courts to uphold basic reproductive rights protections based on the federal constitution. With this reproductive amendment, we have the opportunity to enshrine these rights in the Vermont Constitution,” Pugh said.

Over email, Rep. William Notte, D-Rutland, said he thinks there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the proposal that he says won’t change rights and procedures that already exist.

“It doesn’t change anything in Vermont. But with the uncertainty in the Supreme Court over a woman’s right to choose, it’s critical that we work to ensure Vermont women don’t lose the freedom to control their own lives,” Notte said.

Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, who voted against the amendment, said she was not surprised by the vote but said her biggest concern was that voters might believe they should support proposition 5 to preserve Roe v. Wade, but said the proposal is “very different.”

“The injustice is that it will put people in the position of wanting to protect Roe v. Wade to feel compelled to vote for something drastically more extreme. Roe v. Wade struggled to balance the two interests, the autonomy of a woman and the development of life. It only chooses reproductive autonomy,” she said.

Another Rutland County Representative, Stephanie Jerome, a Democrat who represents Brandon, said she thinks supporting the amendment is “the right thing to do.”

“Abortion is a difficult and painful decision and only between the woman, her family and her doctors. It’s been like that for 50 years. This constitutional amendment, if ratified, will simply incorporate it into our Constitution. It doesn’t change anything, but just moving forward protects women,” she said.

William Notte, Stephanie Jerome, Logan Nicoll and Mary Howard voted in favor of the amendment while Thomas Burditt, Larry Cupoli, Peter Fagan, Art Peterson, Thomas Terenzini, William Canfield, Robert Helm, Butch Shaw, Patricia McCoy, Sally Achey and James Harrison voted. against him, among the representatives of Rutland County.

In a statement, Lucy Leriche, vice president of public affairs for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, said the legislature “made history.” Pugh told a representative that Vermont was the first state to propose enshrining reproductive rights in its constitution.

“Now, the Reproductive Freedom Amendment will be decided by Vermont voters in November, and it’s up to all of us to get it across the finish line. If we’re successful, it will be a groundbreaking achievement. Vermont will become the first state in the country to explicitly protect reproductive rights in its constitution and will pave the way for other states to do the same,” Leriche said.

Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, in a statement released Tuesday, urged Vermonters to support and pass the proposal in November.

“While Roe v. Wade of the Supreme Court is still under attack, let’s recognize that the fight for reproductive justice is far from over. An attack on reproductive rights anywhere is an attack on reproductive rights everywhere. … We cannot allow our personal freedoms to be curtailed. We must stand united in Vermont and nationally for reproductive freedom. Gray said.

If approved, the amendment will enter into force this year.


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