By Guy Page
At 10:15 a.m. Thursday, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee for the first time will discuss Proposal 5, a declaration of the “right to personal reproductive liberty.”
Prop 5 would make abortion a human right protected by the Vermont Constitution. It is sponsored by Sens. Tim Ashe, Rebecca Balint, Virginia Lyons, and Richard Sears.
The following is an extended quote from Prop 5:
Chapter I, Article 1 [of the VT Constitution] declares ‘That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights.’ Chapter I, Article 7 states ‘That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people.’
The core value reflected in Article 7 is that all people should be afforded all the benefits and protections bestowed by the government, and that the government should not confer special advantages upon the privileged. This amendment would reassert the principles of equality and personal liberty reflected in Articles 1 and 7 and ensure that government does not create or perpetuate the legal, social, or economic inferiority of any class of people.
Many Vermonters would extend this right to unborn Vermonters. During recent hearings on H.57 — the unrestricted abortion bill passed by the House, now in Senate Human Services — an amendment proclaiming fetal personhood was rejected on the House floor. At the hearing, many Vermonters asserted that a viable fetus with separate DNA is a human life distinct from its mother.
If so, Prop 5 opponents may claim this proposed amendment does create and perpetuate the worst kind of legal inferiority — by in effect defining the viable fetus a non-person whose life may be ended without legal recourse.
The amendment must be approved by the Legislature and voted on by Vermonters. It can become part of the constitution as soon as November 2022.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.