Letter: Article 22 is ‘bad governance,’ serves neither pro-choice nor pro-life constituents

This letter is by Renee Brodowski, a resident of Addison County.

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 parents’ 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 Feb. 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, Sen. 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 Sen. 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, Rep. 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.

Sen. Ruth Hardy recently backed out of an Article 22 debate with Rep. Anne Donahue, scheduled in Middlebury on Sept.13, denying voters access to free and open debate on this extremely important issue of amending our state constitution. Will Rep. 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 Rep. Donahue that she made 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.

Renee Brodowski
Addison County

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Article 22 is ‘bad governance,’ serves neither pro-choice nor pro-life constituents

  1. Voters need to know that both Planned Parenthood and the ACLU were among those who helped to draft this Article 22 Amendment language for the legislators to introduce. This is a huge conflict of interest imho, as both groups stand to make obscene amounts of money if it passes. This is for THEIR benefit, not the benefit of the people. PP will make more money from doing more abortions. Later-term abortions cost more and thus will bring in more money for them. They will also probably benefit from being able to sell more late-term aborted baby parts to biomedical research labs, something they do now. They will just be able to do more of it for more money. And the ACLU will almost certainly be involved in all the lawsuits that activist individuals and groups will file under this new language. In those cases, the State will have to defend itself because the language is in the Constitution. And folks, guess who will end up footing the bill for the State’s legal defense against the ACLU? We the taxpayers!! Pro-choice taxpayers will pay right along with pro-life taxpayers! This Amendment is bad news. Vote NO on Article 22!

  2. The key terminology that enables the typical governmental ‘mission creep’ is this:
    “…the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course … shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest…”.

    I repeat: “… unless justified by a compelling State interest…”.

    In other words, while the process of determining this standard has long been addressed by the courts through what is called ‘the strict scrutiny test’ – it is the government that has the authority. Curiously, it was SCOTUS justice David Souter (often considered a liberal) who wrote in his dissenting opinion in Alameda Books v. City of Los Angeles (2002) – “Strict scrutiny leaves few survivors.”

    The point we all know that must be considered is whether or not an unborn child has constitutional protections. On one hand, the precedent is ‘yes’. When a pregnant woman is murdered, at any time during her pregnancy, it is deemed to be a double homicide. And yet, when a pregnant woman chooses to terminate the life of her unborn child, for any reason, or for no reason at all, and at any time, it’s a matter of “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy”. The question is, does an unborn child have any individual rights?

    The legislators supporting Article 22 are ‘copping out’, saying it all depends on “a compelling State interest”. Now its our turn to assume personal responsibility in the upcoming constitutional referendum.

    Choose wisely, grasshopper.

  3. The proponents of article 22 advocating for “personal reproductive autonomy ” are the same people that supported firing individuals that chose not to get the experimental mrna injections in preservation of their bodily autonomy. Where there’s a double standard, there’s a hidden agenda….every time.

    • At this point, it doesn’t matter who the ‘proponents’ of Article 22 are. What’s important is explaining, publicly, to those who might still be listening/reading, why its bad legislation.

      With Article 22, what everyone needs to know is that the ‘compelling State interest’ referenced in the amendment can prevent abortion, allow abortion, force abortion, force a mother to carry a child to term… or force anything in between. ‘Personal Reproductive Autonomy’ is NOT in this legislation. Everything is up to ‘the State’.

      Think about it. ‘The Administrative State’, those people who want to control everything we do, and accept responsibility for none of it, don’t have a hidden agenda. There’s nothing obscure about their blatant dishonesty. Yes – they are dishonest people. Period.

      In this case they are calling Article 22 ‘The Vermont Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment’, when the only certainty in its language is that final decisions will be based on a ‘Compelling State Interest’, not individual Liberty.

      Whoever these people are – they are liars. And you can see who they are here under Roll Call Votes (2):
      https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2022/PR.5

      I guaranty to everyone reading this, the amendment’s proponents will think twice before challenging my accusation on this forum, because they know they’re lying. And all we need to know is that Prop 5/Article 22 is bad legislation, and that its proponents are fraudsters, not to be trusted with anyone’s liberty or autonomy.

      Unless you are a liar or a fool, you’ll vote NO on Article 22, no matter what you think about abortion.

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