By Guy Page
April 9, four state senators voted against Proposal 5, the pro-abortion constitutional amendment “to ensure that every Vermonter is afforded personal productive liberty.”
The four state senators who opposed Proposal 5 are Rutland County senators Brian Collamore and Josh Terenzini, and Essex/Orleans senators Russ Ingalls and Robert Starr. Voting in favor were: Becca Balint (Windham), Phil Baruth (Chittenden), Joe Benning (Caledonia), Chris Bray (Addison), Randy Brock (Franklin), Brian Campion (Bennington), Tom Chittenden (Chittenden), Alison Clarkson (Windsor), Ann Cummings (Washington), Ruth Hardy (Addison), Cheryl Hooker (Rutland), Jane Kitchel (Caledonia), Ginny Lyons (Chitteden), Mark MacDonald (Orange), Richard Mazza (GI-Chittenden), Dick McCormack (Windsor), Alice Nitka (Windsor), Corey Parent (Franklin), Chris Pearson (Chittenden), Andy Perchlik (Washington), Anthony Pollina (Washington), Kesha Ram (Chittenden), Richard Sears (Bennington), Michael Sirotkin (Chittenden), Richard Westman (Lamoille), and Jeanette White (Windham).
Proposal 5 passed 26-4, and now goes to the Vermont House. If approved there, Proposal 5 will go before all Vermont voters at the November, 2022 general election.
Both Vermont Right to Life and the Vermont ACLU urged that abortion be mentioned specifically in both Prop 5 and the document explaining the purpose for the proposal. However, the Senate refused to do so – likely because it is intended to enshrine in the Constitution not only abortion rights, but also access to transgender surgery and therapy and other issues related to reproduction.
“Proposal 5 is a legislative proposal to amend the Vermont Constitution with pro-abortion language,” Vermont Right to Life Executive Director Mary Beerworth told Vermont Daily recently. “Proponents of Proposal 5 have stated publicly that their goal is to ensure unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. The final language is below. It has already progressed through the first phase of the amendment process by being approved by both the Vermont House and Senate in 2019. If the language is approved again in the 2021-2022 legislative session, Article 22 will appear on your general election ballot for a “Yes” or “No” vote in November of 2022.”
The following is excerpted from the April 9 Senate Journal:
PROPOSAL 5 –
Sec. 1. PURPOSE
(a) This proposal would amend the Constitution of the State of Vermont to ensure that every Vermonter is afforded personal reproductive liberty. The Constitution is our founding legal document stating the overarching values of our society. This amendment is in keeping with the values espoused by the current Vermont Constitution. Chapter I, Article 1 declares “That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and
unalienable rights.” Chapter I, Article 7 states “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people.”
The core value reflected in Article 7 is that all people should be afforded all the benefits and protections bestowed by the government, and that the government should not confer special advantages upon the privileged. This amendment would reassert the principles of equality and personal liberty reflected in Articles 1 and 7 and ensure that government does not create or perpetuate the legal, social, or economic inferiority of any class of people. This proposed constitutional amendment is not intended to limit the scope of rights and protections afforded by Article 7 or any other provision in the Vermont Constitution.
(b) The right to reproductive liberty is central to the exercise of personal autonomy and involves decisions people should be able to make free from compulsion of the State. 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.
Article 22 of Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution is added to read: 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.
Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE
The amendment set forth in Sec. 2 shall become a part of the Constitution of the State of Vermont on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November 2022 when ratified and adopted by the people of this State in accordance with the provisions of 17 V.S.A. chapter 32.