McLinden: Article 22 from Republican side of the aisle

by Tom McLinden

It is no secret that many Republicans are right-to-life, but Republicans take on Article 22 might surprise you. Many right-to-life Republicans recognize reluctantly that Vermont is very strongly pro-choice, has been since 1972, and will remain that way. There are also many Pro-choice members in the Republican Party. So why then have these two groups banded together to oppose Article 22?

While past Republican opposition to abortion has been based on the belief that the practice itself is immoral, that is not the case here. Their primary objection to Article 22 is that it would sanction late term abortion up to the moment of birth. Polls consistently show most people, including Pro-choice voters, support common sense restrictions on late term abortions.
Article 22 supporters and many letters on these pages have attested that late term abortions happen rarely if ever, and there are protocols in place to make sure this is the case. The problem is that is not what Article 22 says.

Article 22 creates a foundational principal in the VT Constitution that allows a practice the vast majority of voters don’t want. A lawyer once told me “Don’t believe what the salesman is telling you when you’re signing the document, believe what the document says.” So in spite of the many insurances that this will never happen, the document says it can. If this amendment goes into effect a national company specializing in late term abortions could set up shop in Burlington and there will be nothing anyone can do to stop them. Who knows if that would happen, but under Article 22 it could.

Article 22 is not simply a guarantee of abortion rights already on the books, If it were I believe even Republican opposition would be muted. Instead it is a pandoras box of rights not even lawyers fully understand. That’s because Article 22 doesn’t even use the word “woman” or “abortion”. Instead it says: “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy”. No one I’ve talked to really understands what this means. In legal terms an “individual” is much different than a “woman”; an individual can be any age or gender. An earlier editorial on these pages asked what male “personal reproductive autonomy” will look like. Given the use of the term “individual” instead of “woman” both men and women will be covered by Article 22. Will women now be required to take their reproductive partner’s needs into account when considering whether to carry a pregnancy to term? The answer seems to be: the courts will decide. Aren’t the courts what got us into this mess in the first place? Are we really considering a Constitutional Amendment who’s language is so vague that it is destined to end up back in the courts?

Constitutional Amendments are forever. Who knows fifty years from now what medical advances may allow humans to reproduce, cloning comes to mind, and there is likely to be other alternatives too frightening to consider. But under Article 22 the sky would be the limit, regulation of any human reproduction by any means would be unconstitutional.

Vermonters pride themselves in being leaders when it comes to legislation. But creating the least restrictive abortion rights in the country is not a category Vermont wants to lead. Advances in medicine now allow us to see things we couldn’t see when Roe vs. Wade was decided almost 50 years ago. We can now see the stages of development during pregnancy that we couldn’t see back then. We now know there is a point in the pregnancy where the evidence of a new human life is unmistakable. Given this information deciding how to balance women’s rights during pregnancy requires a delicate and serious discussion, that should rise above partisan bickering, to reach a solution befitting Vermonter’s unusual sense of kindness and compassion. It is time Vermonters address the new realities that face us. It is not a time for extreme solutions on either side, and certainly not a race to impress others with how smart and forward-thinking we are. And it’s certainly not a time to denigrate those with whom we disagree.

This is not an issue for any party to win or lose. If we do this wrong we all lose. This is an opportunity to define Vermont’s soul; to tell ourselves and others what kind of people we are. We should not allow ourselves to be defined by our differences but by our strengths, our compassion, and our aspiration to become our better selves. There is a way to do this but Article 22 is not the answer. This is not who we are, we can do better.

“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.”

The author is the chair of the Stowe Republican Town Committee.

Categories: Life&Death

9 replies »

  1. Hear! Hear! Also another thing to think about if this Article 22/ Prop 5 passes. What if some pedophile (male or female) comes into this state, Vermont, and decides that they want to take advantage of minors under the umbrella of “personal reproductive autonomy???” Their constitutional right trumps any legislation on the books that protect minors.
    Please vote NO! We don’t want the repercussions that are waiting at the door!

  2. Excellent analysis and commentary on Article 22… All of the possible outcomes listed, and some we can only imagine, could be created through the extremely vague terms used, i.e. individual; reproductive autonomy, etc. That is not the clear language one would choose to amend a Constitution. Another concern is that this Constitutional Amendment proposal was pushed through the Legislature during Covid. That was a difficult time for most Vermonters who were struggling to deal with “real life” issues; most of the legislative discussions were held via the internet, a forum in which many citizens were not able to participate.

  3. You are correct regarding Article 22. The legislators have wasted their time and taxpayers dollars with this Article. Isn’t the purpose of a Constitution to define boundaries of and procedures for governance? Article 22 as written does neither and using vague and ill defined language actually creates confusion and fails to provide any real protections. It would, if enacted, add to an already overcrowded court docket, provide some lawyers job security and create uncertainty in healthcare.
    No advancement to the general welfare can be found here.
    Vote No on Article 22.

  4. “ Constitutional Amendments are forever.”; on the contrary, remember prohibition? Done and undone via Amendments. True, it’s a lengthy laborious process to get one.

  5. Let’s discect Mr. McLinden’s points separately.

    His referral to ” many Pro Choice members in the Republican Party. ”
    Must be, even though Mr. McLinden is the Chair of the Lamoille County GOP, he hasn’t read the VTGOP Platform.
    You know, the one where the language specifically states, We support life from conception to Natural Death.

    Neither Mr. McLinden or anyone else will define me. As a Real Vermont Republican, my primary objection to Article 22 is that it would give ” The State ” the Right to take any child they deem to be a candidate for sexual mutilation.
    Scott signed H57 into Law which provides for abortion till the the moment of Birth.
    ( making the 70% of the democrats and 30% of Republicans he represents very happy )

    ” We now know the there is a point in the pregnancy where the evidence of a new human life is unmistakable. ”
    So now Mr. McLinden is the sole arbiter of when Human Life begins.
    Tell me Mr. McLinden, if it isn’t a Human Life before you proclaim it to be, what exactly is it ?
    Is it OK to kill the Baby at 3 Hours, 3 Days, 3 Weeks or 3 Months. ?
    Or since you specifically argue against 3rd Trimester abortions, approximately 12 babies in Vermont annually, is it OK to kill the Baby until the end of the
    2nd Trimester ? ( The other 1200 )

    Mr. McLinden has a good grasp of how terrible Article 22 is.
    Wouldn’t it be something if he, Governor Scott and all the other ” Pro Choice Republicans ” actually adhered to the VTGOP Platform they voted for ?
    But Mr. McLinden hasn’t taken the opportunity to explain that 6 VT Legislators voted for Prop 5. Benning voted for it twice as State Senator from Caledonia County. VT State Representatives Beck, Martin, Walker, Leffler and Sheuermann all voted for Prop 5.
    Benning and Scott have stated multiple times they will vote for Article 22.
    How about calling any of them out Mr. McLinden ?
    Each of the has violated the VTGOP Platform.

    Must be Mr. McLinden approves of VTGOP Chairman Dame’s Big Tent Agenda which gave them Madden.
    But hey ? Who cares if you are really a Republican ?
    You just have to say you are.
    Or in Madden’s case, you can openly say you defeated real Republicans.

  6. Article 22 is the proverbial wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing.

    Proponents use the typical ploy of the false premise, that Article 22 is only about abortion rights, to hide its true intent. This false premise is an emotional ploy. Article 22 is NOT about abortion rights. The term ‘abortion’ is nowhere to be found in its text. It is a subtle, yet profound, attack, intended to dilute (and ultimately negate) our God-given, constitutional, individual liberties and freedoms.

    The terminology of ‘compelling State interest’ and its legalese accomplice, ‘Strict Scrutiny’, are nowhere to be found in the U. S. or Vermont Constitutions. Our freedom of speech is not contingent on ‘a compelling State interest’. Our freedom of religion is not based on the court’s ‘strict scrutiny’.

    Consider Chapter I, A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont, Part V, of Vermont’s Constitution. It DOES NOT say:
    “That all power being originally inherent in, and consequently, derived from, the people; therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants, and at all times accountable to them… ‘unless there is a compelling State interest’.

    Article 22 will constitutionally codify, for the first time in the history of the United States, the precept that ‘a compelling State interest’, on any subject, can take precedent over our individual liberty and freedom.

    Vote NO on Article 22.

    • “The most terrifying words in the English language are:
      I’m from the government and I’m here to help”
      Ronald Reagan had it right. Mr. Eshelman has it right.
      This ‘amendment’ amends your constitutional freedoms with “compelling state interest”.
      Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

  7. Everyday I declare to St.Michael (the archangel) that we are looking at the wickedness and snares of the devil right in our face.. OUR vote is the spear and prayers are for the masses to open their hearts to common sense not to exclude the God from allll. !!!

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