This commentary is by Wendy Bucchieri, of Arlington.
Article 22 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.”
The first thing I have to ask is, do you understand what that means — not what you think it means, not what you are told it means, but what it is actually saying? Even those who created and sponsored this amendment admit that it is vague and said, “The courts will have to decide” Are you kidding me? You want us to change the Constitution of Vermont, not changed since 1786, with undefined verbiage?
I don’t want to get into the weeds on this amendment — though there are lots of weeds we could get into. Such as:
- It never says the word “abortion.” Here in Vermont abortion is legal right up to the moment of birth and has been that way since 1973. H.57 was passed four-plus years ago to make darn sure it would remain legal in light of a potential conservative Supreme Court.
- It uses the word “individual,” which means a man or a woman. It says nothing about how to settle a conflict between the woman’s right to reproduce and the man’s right to reproduce. I guess that’s more sticky pudding for the courts to decide.
- It does not designate age and could be used to interfere with parental oversight of minors.
- It does not define what “personal reproductive autonomy” means.
- It gives no conscience protections for those who do not agree with abortion, such as doctors, nurses, people of faith and faith institutions.
But there is one word in this article that every Vermonter should shudder at, whether you are pro-life or pro-choice. I’m calling it the legislative sleeper cell. The word “unless.” You can have all this liberty and personal reproductive autonomy, it can’t be denied or infringed upon, “unless justified by a compelling state interest.” Whaaat? Whoa, let’s put on the brakes!
Is this saying what I think it is saying? I just keep feeling there is an endgame, a hidden agenda in this amendment. In a very sneaky way Article 22 subverts our individual liberties and places them under, and subject to, state Interests. It is giving the state, which should have limited power over the individual, a latent door that the state can access at a later date.
Now what could be a compelling state interest? After Covid lockdowns, masks, social distancing, and compelled vaccinations to keep jobs, enter buildings or travel, it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that our government is more than willing to suspend our constitutional rights. Even as we speak, Big Tech in cahoots with government has attacked free speech and weaponized the FBI against U.S. citizens. We are not in Kansas anymore.
I can think of one or two compelling arguments the state could make to override your personal reproductive autonomy. The powers that be are ever more determined to employ tyrannical methods similar to China and are totally beholden to the dictates of the World Economic Forum and corporate billionaires, supporting globalism rather than being a constitutional republic for the people and by the people. Through the ‘pandemic’ and ‘climate change’ they want us to surrender individual liberties for the ‘common good.’
The ‘common good’ and ‘compelling state interest’ might be limiting family size like China’s one-child mandate. Perhaps a food shortage emergency would be the trigger. Perhaps the ‘too many people’ crowd will deem it a compelling state interest to limit population growth by forcible means. Or perhaps the climate change crowd’s desire to reach ‘zero carbon emissions’ will lead to no cows, no people, no carbon.
Send a clear message to Vermont’s legislators: “Leave our Vermont Constitution alone.” Vote no on Article 22.