The Vermont House gave final approval Tuesday to a state constitutional amendment that would keep abortion on demand legal even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The Washington Post reports the lawmakers voted 107-41 in favor of the pro-abortion amendment, Proposal 5, despite Republican lawmakers’ warnings about dire consequences for human life.
In November, a majority of voters also must approve Proposal 5 on the ballot for it to be added to the state constitution.
Before the vote Tuesday, state Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, spoke out against the amendment, pointing to other bad U.S. Supreme Court rulings on eugenics and segregation, according to the report.
“We as human beings have made a lot of mistakes at times when we thought we were doing the right thing,” Donahue said. “When we start putting a current belief in the constitution, I think we’re playing with fire.”
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She said individuals should be allowed to control their reproductive decisions, but “once biological reproduction has occurred,” another life also is involved.
Other pro-life lawmakers expressed concerns that the language in the amendment is so broad that it would prevent the state from ever enacting any protections for unborn babies.
The proposed amendment states: “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.”
Basically, abortion activists want to keep unlimited, unregulated abortions for any reason up to birth legal in Vermont even if Roe is overturned, according to the Vermont Right to Life Committee.
“… Proposal 5 is reckless and irresponsible, dangerous and expensive as well as morally and ethically wrong,” the pro-life organization said. “The lives of countless unborn babies will be placed at further risk of abortion if Proposal 5 is adopted.”
However, pro-abortion lawmakers argued that the amendment is an important safeguard for abortion because the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade later this year.
State Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, said abortion supporters cannot rely on the courts anymore to uphold “fundamental reproductive rights.”
“While the right to reproductive autonomy, and abortion care, remains for the time being a fundamental right at the national level, it has been and continues to be under serious attack,” Pugh said, the AP reports. “In this turbulent time clarity is called for.”
But pro-life lawmakers said the amendment could strip away all legal protections from unborn babies right up to birth.
Here’s more from the AP:
Republican state Rep. Carl Rosenquist, R-Georgia, said the proposal as written could make it unconstitutional for Vermont lawmakers to pass any kind of legislation that would “protect or preserve an infant’s life prior to full term.”‘
“This is not who we are,” Rosenquist said during the debate that lasted just under one hour and 45 minutes. “We do not give greater freedom of expression and life to one group of people at the expense of others in our society. And yet, that is exactly what we were doing by passing Prop five.”
A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood’s Vermont lobbying arm said they hope the amendment will become a “model” for other states.
For nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade has allowed unique, living unborn babies to be killed for basically any reason up to birth. Since 1973, more than 63 million unborn babies have been aborted and countless mothers and fathers have suffered.
In December, however, the Supreme Court heard a major abortion challenge out of Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, that could overturn Roe and allow states to protect unborn babies again. A ruling is expected in June.
The Guttmacher Institute predicts that 26 states would ban abortions if Roe is overturned, and hundreds of thousands of unborn babies’ lives would be saved, according to an amicus brief by researchers and economists.
Polls consistently show that a strong majority of Americans oppose late-term abortions and do not want their tax dollars to pay for abortions.