On Nov. 8, Vermonters will vote on whether to add the following proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution: Article 22 (Personal Reproductive Liberty) That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.
Sound confusing? That’s because it is. If Article 22 is truly about enshrining the right to access abortion for women in Vermont, why do “pregnancy,” “abortion” and “women” not even appear in its wording? While its sponsors insist on the contrary, it is really a veiled attempt to codify Roe v. Wade. But Article 22 goes far beyond anything ever intended by Roe.
Article 22 is completely unnecessary because abortion is already legal and fully accessible in Vermont. Voting no on Article 22 in November would still have no effect on the ability to have an abortion here.
One of the more troubling aspects of Article 22 was expressed by Rep. Anne Donahue of Northfield when she said that “it takes a deeply ethical dilemma that divides good people … and it chooses the most absolute extreme of one side of a debate and enshrines it in the state constitution.”
She also stated: “Good people have, in the past, made grievous mistakes and violated human rights, whether through imperialism or slavery or eugenics. Perspectives of time make us recognize the evil, but in their time, they were in accord with their society’s values.”
Wherever you stand on the issues of abortion, choice, liberty, and personal reproductive autonomy, intentionally ending the lives of innocent, defenseless preborn babies and diminishing their humanity at any stage of pregnancy does not represent the values of the majority of Vermont voters. Yet Article 22 completely disregards these values and would enshrine late-term abortion as a constitutional right.
Let us not be found on Nov. 9 deeply regretting the ratification of this poorly written, extreme and unnecessary amendment to the Vermont Constitution. This is why we must vote no to Article 22 on Nov. 8.