by Carol Kauffman
If outspoken proponents of Prop 5/Article 22 are right, it will be the first constitutional amendment that will actually take away Vermonter’s individual rights by removing the opportunity for the legislature to represent the will of the people and instead give all power to unelected medical organizations and judges.
State Rep. Dr. George Till, division chief of General OB/GYN at the University of Vermont Medical Center wrote in an op-ed, “Perhaps the most common and disturbing piece of misinformation being circulated surrounding Article 22 is the idea that it will remove all restrictions on abortion and “enshrine elective pregnancy termination up to the time of birth.”
Yet, in 2019, Rep. Dr. Till joined his allies in defeating every proposed amendment to Act 47 that might have imposed guardrails to prevent late-term abortions, including exceptions related to the viability of the fetus, amendments related to conscience and parental rights, a ban on partial-birth abortion, and providing medical help to abortion survivors. Elective pregnancy termination up to the time of birth is very much on the table in Article 22 because Rep. Dr. Till refused to take it off.
Dr. Lauren MacAfee, OB/GYN at the University of Vermont Medical Center said in an interview on Vermont Public Radio, “The goal of Article 22 is to really enshrine into our Constitution what current practice is happening now and to avoid some of the whims of the legislative sessions. At this time in Vermont, there are no abortions that are taking place in the third trimester. And that practice won’t change with Article 22 if it were to pass.”
Dr. MacAfee should know well that policies change and trends shift. For example, on January 26, 2018, the University of Vermont Medical Center announced it would begin offering elective abortion procedures, ending a 45-year-old policy.
There are no prohibitions against third-trimester abortion in Article 22 nor mandates for future medical ethics boards. To suggest, as Dr. Till and MacAfee do, that something that is constitutionally protected will “never happen” is naïve at best and dangerously misleading at worst.
Article 22 proponents have intentionally proposed a vague state constitutional amendment while assuring voters of its intent.
The author is an Addison resident and president of the Vermont Family Alliance