Editor’s note: the author wrote this speech to deliver on the floor of the Vermont House of Representatives yesterday, during debate about Prop 5, the proposed constitutional amendment allowing unrestricted abortion and “reproductive autonomy.” The House voted 107-41 to support Prop 5. Voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to ratify the Legislature’s decision.
by Rep. Art Peterson (R-Clarendon)
Proposal 5 reads, in part, as follows:
That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course
The intent of these words is about more than abortion. Though abortion ends the lives of around 1200 babies every year in Vermont this amendment could have impact far beyond the fate of the unborn.
Take, for instance, the case of a mother who brought her 9 year old daughter to VT from another state for “sexual training” that was alleged to have been performed by a producer with CNN. If you don’t know of this it was in the December 14, 2021 edition of VT Digger. I think I can safely say that all members of this body who read the piece were appalled. But if we assume that use of reproductive organs is a component of personal reproduction, and that sexual training most certainly would include some element of the use of those organs, is it far fetched to say that, if the 9 year old agreed to the training, it could be considered constitutionally protected under this new amendment, which has no specified age limit? Is this a business model for private sex education? Is this the type of business we want to establish in our state?
In a 2017 article entitled “The Future of Reproductive Autonomy” law professor John Robertson asserts that reproductive autonomy includes “the freedom to have sex without reproduction”. If this is now a ‘right’ does it set the stage for legal prostitution and sex work in Vermont? The courts may say that it does. So that could mean sex work at any age as long as you’re following your own “life course”! The occasional pregnancy caused by sex work can be easily cared for by Planned Parenthood. Is this what we want for Vermont? Is this how we attract much needed families and work force to our state?
If “personal reproductive autonomy” is a ‘right’ will taxpayers be on the hook to pay for abortions, sterilization, infertility and surrogacy, gender surgeries….and Planned Parenthood itself?? What about those of us who conscientiously object on moral grounds to supporting these procedures? These questions should be in the minds of everyone as we decide on this issue today.
Finally, some random but relevant information: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 which was updated in 2020 makes it illegal to take bird eggs out of a nest of a long list of migratory birds. Here’s my question: why would we consider the eggs of an animal a future life, and protect it, and not consider a fetus in the womb a future human life, and protect it? What about the ‘life course’ of the unborn?
There are many in this chamber who have spent a great part of their lives helping the sick, the poor, the homeless, the vulnerable, and anyone else who needs a hand up. You are to be commended for your work. But now we’re faced with a proposal that will most heavily impact those same groups and it’s up to us to act responsibly. Unethical and unconstrained activities such as what this amendment promotes will always have a negative impact on the most vulnerable, and there is nothing more defenseless and vulnerable than a child in the womb.
This proposed amendment could open the door to unknown experiments in human exploitation that we cannot anticipate today. To support it is irresponsible and beneath the good conscience of this body. Given that our present laws already guarantee the unfettered right to an abortion I ask my colleagues to vote NO to Proposal 5.
The author is Vermont House of Representatives member for Clarendon, West Rutland, Wallingford, Tinmouth, and Proctor. He is a United States Military Academy (West Point) graduate, class of 1973 and has resided in Clarendon since 1978. He is married, has four grown children and twelve grandchildren.
Excellent article. Thank you for your service to this state – as we appear to truly be living in diabolical times, and I don’t say that lightly.
Though informative & enlightening however, you are largely preaching to the choir on Guy’s site here and I hope that you will submit this article as an editorial or commentary to the VTDigger or the Burlington “once free” Press, or the Brattleboro Reformer, Bennington Banner where it will perhaps open some eyes.
And I trust your Republican colleagues (and the lone, brave democrat who voted in opposition to this deranged Proposition) will do the same. Your LOUD voices can make the difference.
great idea. and I readers can share on their social media.
I just want to point out, in the case of the CNN producer, as far as I can tell it was the girl’s adoptive mother who brought her to VT. Her birth mother is the one who brought it to attention of police after finding disturbing messages on her daughters phone or ipad. VT digger reported it as the mother without this clarification, and something about that really bothered me. I can’t imagine how painful it would be as the birth mother to see this evil woman referred to as the mother.
The Biden administration is currently handing out $30 million taxpayer dollars to buy crack pipes for drug users. This is to promote racial equality.
Using this logic, a sane person would conclude that anything the Democrats legislate will end up with a horrific outcomes for every American citizen.
Thank you, Representative Peterson.
I don’t see how men can be forced into fatherhood and child support payments if this amendment passes, especially combined with the language of the other amendment for slavery / indentured servitude *in any form*. Women can not only have abortions, but under safe haven laws can even abandon the baby up to 3 days old, consequence free. No such freedom to absolve themselves of responsibility for helping to create life exists for men… until now. Thanks, ladies! No more tricking men by “forgetting,” to take your pill and getting child support, or forced commitment / marriage / divorce alimony etc. Big win for men!
That’s 30 days, not 3. 😉
To: Rep. Petersen: Great message, that should be mandatory reading for everyone on a voter checklist. God will have the last word in this deception coming out of Montpelier. Some of us may not be around to witness the reaction, but it will happen. We have a huge opportunity to set this straight and right in Nov. It will require every God Fearing voter to exercise that right , and hopefully un-elect some of the perpetrators of denial of speaking about this item at committee hearings leading up to the vote,and vote down this monster.
God help us.
great article. go to jail for breaking an egg, celebrate having a subsidized abortion….
reality is tough for some people.
This would never see the light of day in any other publication. Guy, thank you!
Wow, looks the right in this state is really tossing the kitchen sink at this Prop 5 debate.
Mr. Smith – Representative Peterson’s primary point should be well-taken – we don’t know what the proposed amendment really means; the impact is unknown. It would seem prudent to reject an amendment when the proponents cannot tell us what it means except to say, “The courts will decide.” As apparently intended (but not explicitly – the word “abortion” is omitted) the proposal would most definitely foreclose serious consideration of any statutory restrictions on abortion throughout the full nine months of pregnancy. Granted, there are no restrictions now, but the amendment would prohibit any such restriction from being seriously considered. Surveys seem to suggest that Vermonters are like the vast majority of Americans – they oppose late-term abortion. This proposed amendment would seem likely to foreclose future legislatures from ever considering curbing late-term abortion – up to the moment of birth. The impact upon medical practitioners and their ethical decisions is also unknown. Do Vermont voters want to live in a state where all medical personnel may be prohibited from opting out of performing abortions? Will the doctors and nurses who would prefer not to perform abortions leave our state or refrain from coming here to study or live? How will this impact the quality of Vermont healthcare? Will Vermont become a destination for abortions? The amendment should be rejected by the voters.