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PROP 5/ ARTICLE 22

 

KEY POINTS-

Vermonters are due to vote on this proposed amendment in November and identifying the destructive nature of this proposal is crucial to the future of Vermonters.

 

The language proposed and approved by the Vermont Senate and House for Article 22 (Personal Reproductive Liberty) of Chapter 1 for the Vermont Constitution is the following,

“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.”

Prop 5/Article 22 must be defeated in my opinion. This is a massive mistake on many levels especially in that the proposed language uses the phrase "unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means."  This completely places the ultimate authority of an individual's reproductive autonomy in the hands of the state. Regardless of where someone lands on the emotionally charged, highly controversial abortion issue, I cannot even begin to express the danger of this, and I will work to spread the word and help ensure its defeat. This proposal is being sold as personal reproductive autonomy, but it is not offering this, and the language will only lead to a political and legal quagmire.

 

DETAILS

Prop 5/Article 22-

Does the State intend to supersede individual reproductive autonomy? According to the existing language, in Prop 5, Article 22- the proposal to amend Vermont's Constitution, this appears to be the case. Vermonters are due to vote on this proposed amendment in November and identifying the destructive nature of this proposal is crucial to the future of Vermonters. Regardless of where an individual lands on the issue of abortion, Vermonters must come together in solidarity and understand the real problems with this proposal and vow to vote NO on prop 5/Article 22 this November.

 

The language proposed and approved by the Vermont Senate and House for Article 22 (Personal Reproductive liberty) of chapter 1 for the Vermont Constitution is the following,

 

“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.”

 

Abortion is very obviously the most emotionally charged, controversial and debated issue today- and understandably and rightly so -we are discussing the taking of life. Regardless of where one personally lands on this polarizing subject, there are many aspects to this proposed change that should be disturbing to all- In particular, the use of the phrase "unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means." If we focus on the fact that through this proposed language, it is evident that the state has completely and authoritatively inserted itself into the equation. According to this language, the state would seemingly hold the ability to override an individual's reproductive autonomy and ultimately decide the fate of the situation. Hopefully all Vermonters can recognize the danger here. This is clearly stated in the second half of this proposal which reads, “unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” This essentially seems to say yes- you have personal reproductive autonomy (even though we are not sure who that directly applies to because of vague language) BUT regardless the state can supersede your decision if we determine a “compelling State interest”.

 

This phrase within the proposed legislation which states “unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” has zero details, explanations, limitations or qualifications assigned to it. This is very clearly dangerous language and can only result in a political and legal quagmire. What does a compelling State interest mean? Who determines what qualifies as a compelling State interest? Further what does “least restrictive means” entail or specifically refer to? There is a disturbing lack of clarity here and this fact immensely opens up multiple interpretations and sets the stage for disaster and many lawsuits along the way. The fact that these phrases appear in this current version of this proposal for Article 22 should be enough for everyone regardless of their personal stance on abortion to work together to defeat this poorly and dangerously phrased proposal and amendment to our Vermont Constitution.

 

Several other concerning factors related to Prop 5/Article 22 are:

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  • There is no precedent for this type of Constitutional amendment in any other state. Vermont is taking a massive risk by attempting to insert this vague language into the state Constitution. Prop 5 will not enshrine personal reproductive autonomy despite how it is being sold. Upon reading the proposed statement, it very clearly creates space for a wide variety of unknowns, risky interpretations, issues and lawsuits. In fact, it could actually remove reproductive autonomy with the current language.

  • This proposal is falsely sold as securing and enshrining “personal reproductive autonomy” There is already existing legislation in Vermont that secures these rights for full reproductive liberty for the mother up until the day of birth. Regardless of personal opinions and beliefs on abortion, at this time this is the current state law. The recent Supreme court ruling has zero impact or infringement on abortion laws in this state.

  • There is no mention of mother or woman in this proposal. This potentially opens up a direct avenue for the father of the fetus to claim, “personal reproductive autonomy” and directly influence or legally attempt to force a situation involving the mother and the baby that is different than what the mother planned or intended. The potential risks for lawsuits here is immense. Not only can this take rights from the mother and the baby, it also realistically will burden the taxpayers with legal fees if challenged and interpreted in this regard.

  • The use of fetal tissue and organs for organ transplants, making vaccines and medications, and use in experimental, scientific and technological research and product development is a highly controversial and ethically debated yet rapidly growing industry. This has been the case and has gone on for quite some time. Will the demand for these fetal tissues and organs and the profitable industry surrounding their use be a factor that could lead to abuses of this proposal due to its ambiguous language and lack of clarity? Could a woman be targeted and paid to have late term abortions in order to provide more fetal organs for scientific use and research? Unfortunately, with Article 22/Prop 5- this among other possibilities is a potential harsh reality that must be considered.

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​Amendment 22 as proposed in Prop 5 disturbingly sets the state ahead of the individual as the ultimate decision maker in the fate of a woman and a fetus. There seems to be no other way to interpret this. The use of the world unless very clearly depicts the fact that the state can lawfully and legally attempt to intervene in an individual's “personal reproductive autonomy if they have “a compelling State interest.” This should be enough to scare any Vermonter away from ever voting to accept this proposal. This proposed Article 22 language is dangerous to any and all Vermonters. This is the opposite of personal reproductive autonomy, and the potential abuses and outcomes of this proposal could be very different than intended based on vague, compromised language and the inclusion of the state's apparent ability to supersede an individual's decision. Please Vote NO on Prop 5, Article 22.

 

Fortunately, Vermonters for Good Governance and many other dedicated Vermonters are doing wonderful and essential work to educate and inform Vermont residents about the danger of Prop 5. Hopefully Vermonters can all come together and defeat this highly controversial, risky and destructive proposed change to Vermont's Constitution.

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