By Eileen Haupt
In his recent commentary, Sen. Joe Benning explains that one of the reasons he voted for Proposal 5 was because it is “gender neutral.” In a VT Digger article he is quoted as saying that the proposal is not just about abortion, but “includes the question of whether or not I should be entitled to a vasectomy.”
This is a big red herring and needs to be challenged.
Benning already has the right to a vasectomy. He has the right to a reversal, as well. Nothing is threatening his right to make these personal decisions.
At a press conference after the Proposal 5 vote, Sen. Ginny Lyons — who is convinced that Roe v. Wade is tenuous and that it is only a matter of time before it is overturned and Vermonters lose their “reproductive liberty” — explains that Proposal 5 would enshrine it in the Vermont Constitution.
Sen. Lyons’ comments also contain the same red herrings, only in female form. In demonstrating that this proposal is in sync with “Vermont values,” she explains that we have no restrictions to reproductive rights: “On the right to choose, the right to be pregnant, the right to have an abortion, the right to sterilization, the right to contraception.“
Like Sen. Benning, she also includes “reproductive rights” that are in no way being threatened — pregnancy, sterilization and contraception.
So, when we peel away the layers of the things these senators tell us are protected under the umbrella of Proposal 5 and we examine what is actually threatened and would be in need of constitutional protection, we are left with only one, and that is “the constitutional right that shall not be named.”
We are left with abortion. That’s it, nothing else.
So why not just be upfront and say it? Why doesn’t Proposal 5 just say, “A woman’s right to an abortion is central” instead of burying it by leaving it unmentioned, using undefined language, such as “personal reproductive autonomy,” and pretending it is also about men’s vasectomies?
What is it about abortion that is so controversial anyway?
The reason that abortion, 46 years after the Roe v. Wade decision, continues to be so controversial is because, unlike the red herrings put before us by our senators, abortion takes the life of a separate, living human being. It is a violent act against a defenseless baby in the womb.
That the unborn child is indeed a person is even more obvious now then in 1973, because of so much more knowledge about prenatal development, crystal clear images of 3D and 4D ultrasound, and even the ability to perform life-saving surgeries on the unborn child while in utero. More and more Americans are coming to this realization, and at the very minimum, support restrictions to abortion.
Perhaps if Vermonters are fooled into thinking the amendment demonstrates, as Benning says, “That the right to privacy is not limited to just one issue,” then we won’t focus on abortion too much.
Pretending that vasectomies, pregnancy, sterilization and contraception need extra constitutional protection — and omitting any mention of abortion, which is really at the heart of Proposal 5 — is cowardly cover, and is deceitful.
Eileen Haupt, of Jericho, is a board member of the Vermont Right to Life Committee.