Commentary

Brodowski: Dem senator backing out of Article 22 debate

by Renee Brodowski

Pro-choice proponents need to know that Article 22, the proposed “personal reproductive autonomy” amendment, will not codify women’s rights to abortion into the Vermont Constitution. In fact, amending the Vermont Constitution to make “personal reproductive autonomy” a right for every individual – men, women, and children – undermines women’s access to safe, on-demand abortion, and undermines parent’s authority to direct their children in reproductive matters free from state interference.

Here is the language of Article 22: “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.”

During the House floor vote on February 8, 2022, House Committee on Human Services Chairwoman Ann Pugh proclaimed the language of the proposed amendment is clear and narrow in scope, and ready to be brought before the voters. However, in 2019 testimony, the Vermont Attorney General’s office and the ACLU recommended the word “abortion” be included in the “purpose” section of the amendment; a recommendation the House Human Services Committee ignored.

In 2019, Senator Ginny Lyons, when asked why not include the word “abortion” in the amendment, stated, “it [reproductive autonomy] will allow for the Supreme Court interpretation, going further, on those things coming up in the future.” What does Senator Lyons anticipate coming up in the future? Why did legislators decide to put forth vague language before the voters that will need to be interpreted by courts, thus abdicating their responsibility to represent their constituents?

Also, during the House Floor Vote in February, Representative Anne Donahue, a Georgetown Law School graduate, explained the legal technicalities, challenges, and extremeness of the language of Article 22 at the one-hour, sixteen-minute mark of the two-hour session. I highly recommend everyone listen to her comments before voting on Article 22, which is available on YouTube on the Vermont House of Representatives channel.

Please consider the following: 1) Unrestricted abortion has been legal in Vermont Since 1972, a year before the Roe v Wade Decision. See Beecham v. Leahy; 2) The Vermont Legislature passed, and Governor Scott signed H.57 (Act 47) in 2019 to make it explicit in state statute that unrestricted, unregulated abortion is the law; 3) Even though Roe v. Wade was overturned at the federal level, abortion will remain legal in our State, even if Article 22 is not added to the Vermont Constitution.

Senator Ruth Hardy recently withdrew from an Article 22 debate with Representative Anne Donahue, scheduled in Middlebury on September 13, denying voters access to free and open debate on this extremely important issue of amending our State Constitution. Will Representative Ann Pugh, Chair of the House Committee that gave a favorable recommendation to the House to advance Proposition 5 (now Article 22) to the voters, uphold her offer to debate Representative Donahue, which was accepted in early August, or will she back out, as well?

All legislative incumbents who voted in favor of bringing this poorly crafted amendment before the voters, along with all government officials who endorse Article 22, need to be replaced by candidates who understand Article 22 is bad governance and serves neither pro-choice nor pro-life constituents. Any candidate who claims they plan to vote “yes” on Article 22 is not competent to serve in government, for they either do not understand or they ignore the reckless, disastrous language of Article 22.

The author is an Addison County resident.

Categories: Commentary

7 replies »

  1. This is not rocket science.

    “Amending the Vermont Constitution to make “personal reproductive autonomy” a right for every individual – men, women, and children – undermines women’s access to safe, on-demand abortion, and undermines parent’s authority to direct their children in reproductive matters free from state interference.”

    Not necessarily. If an amendment (not this one, of course) is constructed properly, it can make “personal reproductive autonomy” a right for every individual – men, women, children, … and those unborn – at least insomuch as our constitution already provides for individual rights enumerated as they are in The Bill of Rights.

    The problem here is that Article 22 (Prop5) does none of this. IN FACT, it does just the opposite with linguistic gymnastics – a la George Orwell’s book, 1984. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

    Consider the name of the act. ‘The Vermont Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment’. Now consider the language in it.

    “…the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course … shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest…”.

    Excuse me. “…unless justified by a compelling State interest…”?

    The Administrative State has been foisting this kind of nonsense on our lazy and gullible society for decades now. The Administrative State has learned that we don’t really read anything anymore. We are not skilled in critical thinking. And our education system is the first stone in their foundation. ‘Don’t worry. Be happy’.

    Think about it. What makes the Affordable Care Act affordable? What is it in the Inflation Reduction Act that actually reduces inflation? And now, we have ‘The Vermont Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment’ … “…unless justified by a compelling State interest…”.

    Hello people!

    • Re: “All legislative incumbents who voted in favor of bringing this poorly crafted amendment before the voters, along with all government officials who endorse Article 22, need to be replaced by candidates who understand Article 22 is bad governance and serves neither pro-choice nor pro-life constituents. Any candidate who claims they plan to vote “yes” on Article 22 is not competent to serve in government, for they either do not understand or they ignore the reckless, disastrous language of Article 22.”

      Spot on. They are lying to us. Fire them all.

      • 107 yes 41 no Vermont House of representatives. 26 yes 4 no Vermont Senate. This is your Vermont legislature voting for a word salad amendment so they could all feel good about themselves and to get the progressive vote. This is pathetic and an abomination to place this junk into our Constitution.
        DISGUSTING!

  2. Not only are they lying to our faces, but they are acting like the leaders in the novel 1984 and are changing the plain meaning of words in the English language. We can read. We know the terrible implications that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have hidden in this Pandora’s Language Box, as they helped draft the language. If it doesn’t mean any of the things we pro-life people say it means, and all things will continue as before, then why is the language of Article 22 even needed in the first place?? Why does it need to be inserted into the State Constitution if, as the Left tells us, it changes nothing?

  3. Thank you for writing this. I also tried to get democratic legisaltors who supported this amendment to debate or at least take part in an educational forum…but they backed out. Planned Parenthood must have told them all to avoid the discussion or they don’t believe in this amendment enough to support it in public and just hide behind the vague language.

  4. If passed sexual assault and child molestation will be perfectly legal as the offender will have reproductive autonomy

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