Mark Shepard: Prop 5 takes Vermont a century backward

Wikimedia Commons/Tony Webster

It should be unimaginable that the state, which first banned slavery in its constitution, is now considering a dehumanizing idea like Prop 5. If you think Americans are above such barbaric acts, look up the history of eugenics in America throughout the prior century.

This commentary is by Mark Shepard, a former Vermont state senator (2003-2006) in the Bennington District. He owns and operates an engineering business specializing in industrial control and test systems.

Prop 5, Article 22 on Vermonters’ 2022 ballot, reads, “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.”

While proponents claim their amendment is to secure a pregnant woman’s unfettered access to a legal abortion, it is no accident that the amendment does not say anything remotely close to that. Removing the fluff and reversing the phrases uncovers that it does far more to empower the state than women: “So long as the state has no compelling interest otherwise, citizens will have reproductive autonomy.”

The only difference between the two wordings is that Prop 5’s convoluted wording hides the fact that it makes the state the ultimate authority over Vermonter’s reproductive choices. Don’t be fooled: a right that the state can take away is not a right. Compare Prop 5 to the clarity in the Bill of Rights.

Indeed, the language of the amendment opens the door to dehumanizing practices, such as forced sterilizations, which were very popular in 20th century America.

As a Vermont State senator I sat around committee tables for four years with many of the proponents and learned their goals and priorities directly from them. The worldview they embrace opposes human impact above all. Hence, they advocate for policies that greatly restrict human activity, including massively reducing the human population itself.

They are determined to eliminate fossil fuels, nuclear and other forms of energy that are responsible for our world being so livable, and they show no concern whatsoever about there being no remotely comparable replacement for the foreseeable future. The result would quickly starve half the world’s population and leave most of the rest to a subsistence existence, with its naturally unhealthy air and water (see “Fossil Future” by Alex Epstein).

To enact ideas like these, which when understood are rejected by all who truly want a better world for people, requires the use of force. And that is why their policies always shift power away from the citizen and toward the state, and Prop 5 is no exception.

Their commitment to an all-powerful state model was etched into my mind in 2006 when my Democrat colleagues tried to sneak through a resolution praising Venezuelan Socialist President Hugo Chavez — the man most responsible for turning the wealthiest nation in South America into a hell hole, with reports of over 100,000 Venezuelans undergoing a violent death. Thankfully, I noticed it amidst a group of friendly resolutions, which are always voted on as a group, and I was able to steer it to an embarrassing end.

Could there be a compelling state interest to not allow women on Medicaid to have children? What about people with genetic health issues? Was Vermont’s assisted suicide law about the right to die, or was it a means for the state to encourage people with poorer health, and hence often a burden to the state, to end their life? These are not light statements, but they do align well with the radical anti-human worldview that the core Prop 5 proponents openly embrace, as well as explain the vague wording of Prop 5. Prop 5 is not about securing the rights of any citizen. It is about giving your rights to the state. Take it for what it says, not for what the proponents say it says.

It should be unimaginable that the state, which first banned slavery in its constitution, is now considering a dehumanizing idea like Prop 5. If you think Americans are above such barbaric acts, look up the history of eugenics in America throughout the prior century. While the legislative process should keep horrific ideas off the ballot, the current Legislature failed its duty. It is up to Vermonters to vote this down and rescue Vermont from regressing back a century. And while at it, clean the mindset that created Prop 5 out of your legislature.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Tony Webster

6 thoughts on “Mark Shepard: Prop 5 takes Vermont a century backward

  1. One of the stated purposes of Proposal 5 is, “government should not confer special advantages upon the privileged”.
    But who will identify the privileged, this amendment leaves that power to be “justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”

    Does this mean individual sovereignty is merely granted as a privilege, or is it just left to be justified by the political structure of the currently recognized government in power?

    If so, your individual sovereignty depends on the language of this amendment!

    Do you think for one minute the privileged, however they are designated, would be afforded equal treatment in an age when privilege is looked at with scorn?

  2. The Republican party is a disaster to those that still have morals and a backbone.

    I will no longer vote for candidates that claim to be Republicans while being in favor of restrictions on our second amendment or that denoonce supporters of president Trump and continue to call the voter fraud that took place in the last presidential election as “The Big Lie”

    Senator Joe Benning calls us white supremacists and insurrectionists and racists. He continues to attack supporters of the Republican party who do not support, what he calls, Phil Scott Republicans.

    Because of statements Benning continues to make, along with other RINOS, we are now addressed numerous times daily on the news as “DOMESTIC TERRORISTS”

    Think about that. Both Benning and Scott vote for and support the Biden policies that are so destructive that Americans can no longer survive.

    Scott spoke openly about supporting the nationwide gun grab by Biden and Joe Benning sat in silence…

    This whole mess in our Republican party will never be handled and common sense restored until we purge those that do not properly represent us.

    For tat reason I am asking everyone to start the process by writing in Gregory Thayer for Lieutenant Governor.

    As Republicans in the state of Vermont we need to defend our state from people like Joe Benning

    We need to send a message to the Republican party that we will no longer tolerate the garbage they are cramming down our throats

    Please visit

    Everyone should spread the word among friends and family, in the community, and on social media.

    Ballot MUST be filled out EXACTLY:

    “Gregory M. Thayer of Rutland”

    • Amen! There is no hope of a Republican Party filled with people that lie to themselves to be of any use making Vermont a better place. Reshape the party and then you may have a chance. This is been a problem for a long time and is why after investing a huge amount of time over 6 years, and then being openly opposed in a primary by the Vermont and the national GOP and even people like John McClaughry, then president of EAI, who all rallied around an openly big-government, pro-cap-and-trade, pro-choice candidate, it became clear there was no real opposition party in Vermont. Except in places like Vermont, one would clearly have seen her as a Democrat. Now, I will not pretend that I would have defeated Peter Welch in that race in 2006, which was a very difficult year for Republicans nationwide, but I would have challenged the destructive ideas of the left. So the race would not have ended up as a total loss, or even worse, actually moving the Republican Party far to the left. You cannot defeat bad ideas without making the case against them and presenting sound ideas at every turn. There needs to be a clear distinction and given our radically to the left the Democrat Party has gone, that should be easy.

  3. Calling it like they see it.

    How refreshing. How come this man isn’t running the VTGOP?

    He gets it.

    Probably was asked to leave the big tent party because he was sane, understood science and CLEARLY understood the uniparty plans.

    • Neil, Thanks It was the long legislative sessions that made it impossible for me to serve in the senate longer. Make no mistake, that is by design and in my view is the biggest issue in Vermont because it greatly shapes the makeup of the legislature and thus the ideas that are considered. I have encourage a real plan toward fixing that, but it garners little interest. There is a preference to do the same thing every election and then wonder why there are few, if any, positive changes. Vermont is in bad need of an opposition party to the destructive anti-impact politics, mostly Prog and Dem, but also many Vermont Republicans. The VTGOP should be that party, but it is fractured between people who just want Republicans elected and people who want to move sound ideas forward.

      Run a full slate of candidates on a 2 month first session with a two-year budget and 2-week only budget adjustment second session and you would have a different legislature! Vermont is a small state and there are only a few adjustable levers. 2 months are plenty of time for that and would hold back bad ideas like Prop 5.

      • Mark;

        I would be interested in knowing more about your plan re: long, legislative sessions and how to fix this. I am running for a House seat @ Washington-Chittenden

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