The Vermont state Senate today overwhelmingly approved a radical amendment that would legalize abortions up to birth and deny legal rights to babies before birth.
The bill the chamber approved would amend the Vermont Constitution to ensure that women can still abort their unborn babies in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
The amendment would add the following language to the state constitution: “That the people are guaranteed the liberty and dignity to determine their own life’s course. The right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty protected by this Constitution and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
By a vote of 28-2, senators moved Proposal 5 forward for House consideration. The amendment, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, eventually will go to Vermonters for a vote if it clears several more legislative hurdles.
Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden and chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said the amendment is a “narrowly crafted proposal” that will “affirm the right to abortion as it currently exists in our state” in the event that federal law on the issue changes.
The two votes against the proposal came from Sens. Brian Collamore and James McNeil, both Rutland Republicans. McNeil said the vote was “easy for me” because of his opposition to abortion in most instances.
“I do believe in women’s rights, but I also believe in the rights of a fetus — an unborn child,” McNeil said.
In language supporting the amendment — but not part of the proposed constitutional change — Proposal 5 also says that “enshrining this right in the constitution is critical to ensuring equal protection and treatment under the law and upholding the right of all people to health, dignity, independence and freedom.”
Just not for unborn babies.
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State pro-life advocates warned the committee that the language could have dangerous and unexpected consequences.
Sharon Toborg of the Vermont Right to Life Committee said the amendment not only could allow unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason up to birth, it also could be interpreted to allow parents to genetically modify their unborn babies for certain desired traits, according to the report.
Toborg also said the threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned is not as imminent as Democrats claim.
“As much as I would like to see Roe overturned I just don’t see it happening any time in the future,” she said. “I can’t even believe that someone would testify seriously that that’s a realistic expectation.”
The only good news is there are more hoops and hurdles to go through before the amendment is adopted into the state Constitution. As the Vermont newspaper indicates:
Amending the state constitution would take years. In addition to Thursday’s Senate vote, a majority of the House must concur; then, the matter would be taken up by both bodies again in the 2021-22 legislative biennium.
If both the Senate and the House approve the measure again, then the amendment would be submitted for voter approval. Proposal 5 currently contains an effective date of November 2022.
The amendment is at odds with the views of Americans on abortion. A May 2018 Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans oppose all or most abortions.
Similarly, a national poll by Marist University found that three in four Americans (75 percent) say abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy. This includes most Republicans (92 percent), Independents (78 percent) and Democrats (60 percent). It also includes more than six in 10 (61 percent) who identify as “pro-choice” on abortion.
ACTION: Contact Vermont state senators.