Commentary

Donahue: Vermont ‘fundamental beliefs and values’ don’t embrace Article 22

by Rep. Anne Donahue

The lead sponsor of the Prop 5/Article 22 reproductive liberty amendment in the Vermont House, Rep. Ann Pugh, said in a recent radio interview that the state constitution “is where we state our most fundamental beliefs and values.”

She is precisely right.

That’s why Article 22 is not about what happens in Vermont today – whether there are, or are not, elective third trimester abortions occurring.

The fundamental question is, do our Vermont beliefs and values support an unlimited right to a third trimester abortion, up until the time of birth, and locking that right into our constitution?

Do our values and beliefs support turning over to Vermont’s courts unlimited authority for future decisions about the definition of “reproductive autonomy” – about what it does or does not cover?

Those are core values included in Article 22.

There is misinformation being perpetuated that Article 22 is intended to protect the standards of Roe v Wade in Vermont. The fact that Roe has been overturned is being used to create fear that abortion rights under Roe v Wade are in jeopardy in Vermont unless we vote for this constitutional amendment.

But the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the existing constitution prohibited broad abortion restrictions, and Vermont state law since 2019 protects access to all abortions in Vermont.

Furthermore, new federal law would supersede Vermont’s constitution, regardless.

Roe itself flatly rejected the argument that “the woman’s right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses.”

The panic across the nation about the Dobbs decision is about access to first trimester abortions, not late term ones.

Article 22 would go radically beyond Roe v Wade by creating a constitutional right in Vermont to abort a viable, unborn child at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason the person carrying it chooses. In the future, if UVMMC decided to end the use of an ethics review panel for third term abortions, or new and less ethical providers came to Vermont to expand abortion access – as they surely would – the state could do nothing about it.

There are some 12,000 third trimester abortions across the country now, and according to the Guttmacher Institute, the majority are for social reasons, not medical ones.

Restrictions on third trimester abortion is consistent with broad, worldwide consensus. Almost every nation – including all European countries – limits abortion after 12 weeks and places major restrictions after 24 weeks.

Even California, often seen as the most liberal state on abortion, bans elective abortion after viability, which approximates the third trimester.

There has also been huge consternation that a 9-person Supreme Court has redefined reproductive rights.

But whenever constitutional language is ambiguous, as Article 22 is, it is the courts which must decide upon the meaning.

Article 22 never references abortion. It guarantees reproductive liberty to all individuals: men, women, and children.

Thus, under the vague wording of Article 22, Vermont’s 5-person Supreme Court would be the decision-maker over what “reproductive autonomy” means for all individuals in the future: when a man’s right to control his reproductive autonomy supersedes a woman’s; when a child could decide on their own to have a hysterectomy; whether the state could ever enact provider conscience protections; or whether new developments such as in experimental genetic engineering is included.

Vermonters, through their legislature, would be barred from intervening in any such decisions. That is the choice that would be made by voting for Article 22.

Are these all values that we believe in and want to enshrine in our constitution?

Placing definitions or future interpretations solely in the hands of five judges?

Barring any state regulation of abortion after viability – right up to the moment of birth?

For most Vermonters, probably not.

Rep. Donahue, a resident of Northfield, is a spokesperson for Vermonters for Good Government.

Categories: Commentary

10 replies »

  1. I think Anne Donahue and Vermonters for Good Government while good intentioned, are making a big mistake in focusing their opposition to Article 22 as being ALL about abortion protection. Their yard signs are confusing to people throughout Vermont, because they say, “No Late Term Abortion, Vote No on Article 22.”

    Those of us who pay attention to this subject and many do, we know that unrestricted abortion up to the time of birth became legal in Vermont’s Laws through Act 47 in 2019. Since Vermont already has legal, late term abortion, how do the existing yard signs communicate a clear and honest message to Vermont Voters?

    Many of us believe there are way more sinister reasons for the unclear language and undefined terms written in Article 22. They will of course throw a Constitutional Right to abortion in the mix if Article 22 passes, but there are many more options to consider.

    Does “personal reproductive autonomy” mean the same thing as
    “personal sexual autonomy?” Progs/Dems/Marxists are very careful and strategic with their choice of words. Reproductive autonomy is an undefined and very loose term that can be manipulated easily. With ALL the perverted sexualization taking place in our culture would this be surprising?

    Think about these things that may be allowed for in Article 22:

    1.) Will the vague language of Article 22 open the door to modern day eugenics, fetal cell lines, chimeras, gain of function and other questionable human experimentation in Vermont?

    2.) In Article 22 there are no age restrictions or conscience clauses. What about Vermont children and their families? Parental rights? What about the religious and personal convictions of our medical professionals?

    3.) The words “individual” and “personal” are vague. Could it be interpreted as reproductive liberty for men, pedophiles, prostitution, trans surgeries and sterilization for minors, sex trafficking, etc.? The courts would decide.

    4.) What could be considered a “compelling State interest”?

    5.) Some states have bills calling for Perinatal Abortions which legalize killing a child up to 28 days after birth! With Article 22 in our Constitution, will this fall on Vermont’s doorstep as well?

    6.) If Article 22 becomes law in our Constitution, does that mean some or all of these possibilities would become a “Constitutional RIGHT” and therefore paid for by our taxes?

    PROTECT OUR FREEDOM!! VOTE NO ON ARTICLE 22!!

  2. I applaud both Anne’s article, as well as the Reply. Please help “educate” voters” as to WHY Article 22 is NOT a good idea-for many reasons. VOTE NO on Article 22!!

  3. What we are seeing in Vermont is Evil penetrating all of the State, in its Government, Schools, Businesses, and is what happens when a society no longer acknowledges God. The Wrath of God is not far behind, if not here already.

    2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

  4. This is a red herring as well as being mis-informed. Late term abortions are not elective procedures. They take place, sorrowfully and regrettably, because something has gone wrong with the fetus and/or the pregnancy that endangers the mother’s life OR that means the child will be born without the ability to survive on its own for more than a short time without significant and very costly medical intervention, and/or live for a short time while suffering. No woman seeks to end a pregnancy in the third trimester for selfish reasons—she and her doctor make the sorrowful decision because it is necessary. I actually knew a person who had a baby who was born without a brain, back in the pre-Roe days; she knew that the baby would not be able to live, but the law required her to deliver it. She asked me in tears if the baby had been in pain before it died (almost immediately upon delivery, by the way) and I could not answer, but I said that I hoped not. She wanted that child and she grieved for years, and blamed herself, even though medically she was not responsible nor was the father—it was just an accident. She was able to deliver and didn’t die, but there are plenty of cases where a woman’s life is indeed in danger, and—in many cases—there are also living children who would be deprived of their mother if the pregnancy were allowed to continue. Think about it.

  5. It is easy to assure the public that the Law won’t be taken to extremes. No “partial birth abortions”, etc. In practice the door would be opened to such extremes.
    I myself believe in limiting abortion access to 20 weeks.

  6. Doesn’t Vt already have a radical abortion bill that was passed in 2019 that allows for abortions all nine months with no restrictions???? Yes it does. The US Supreme Court kicked roe vs wade out because it was bad law -no where in the Constitution does it mention anyones rights to kill babies so should it be in Vermont’s constitution???? Vtbeliever shows too that there is so much more in article 22 then late term abortions as in children being used as pawns not just for abortion rights but gender reassignment medication, removing their breasts, castrations and genetic experimentations—without parental consent -do we want our children going threw these????
    Pedophiles, sex traffickers and human traffickers will be decriminalized—-is this what Vermont should become People???
    What can we do—write letters to newspapers—-letters to the editors-or write an opinion because all of Vermont needs to know this amendment if passed will change Vermont forever and not for the better!!! But every Vermonter needs to be aware of this—it’s NOT an abortion amendment truly because we already have one so be educated and know the facts!!!! Vote NO on Article 22. Mary H

  7. Our state constitution “is where we state our most fundamental beliefs and values.” No matter how we want to parse it, with Article 22 we are enshrining a persons’ unlimited bodily autonomy so that a mother can “eliminate” her child. Is that our “…fundamental belief and value…”?

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