Wendy Wilton: Pro-choice, but opposing Proposal 5/Article 22

This commentary is by Wendy Wilton, of Milton. She served as a former state senator and executive director of the U.S. Farm Service Agency in Vermont.

It is perfectly legitimate, and I will argue sensible, to be pro-choice yet oppose the constitutional amendment Prop 5/Article 22 that is on the general election ballot, arriving now in our mailboxes.

Wendy Wilton

The pro-abortion lobby, which has the ear of the majority of the state’s Legislature, would have you think otherwise. For them it’s all or nothing — either you believe in abortion up to the time of birth or you are not pro-choice in their eyes. Vermont already passed a law, Act 47, in 2019, which allows abortion without restriction — going well beyond the intent of Roe v. Wade. Additionally, Vermont’s Supreme Court decision of 1972, which allowed abortion well before Roe v. Wade, establishes the state’s legal standing. Knowing this, and understanding that the recent SCOTUS decision returned the abortion policy decision back to the states, I have concluded this amendment is unnecessary to assure abortion access in Vermont and presents significant legal challenges.

The amendment on the ballot is as follows: “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 language is vague and open-ended. It does not mention women, nor abortion. It is not restricted to women. Would a man’s right be infringed if his partner wants an abortion and he does not, or visa-versa? By virtue of the term “individual” this does not restrict the language to persons who have achieved legal age or age of consent. These issues will be subject to interpretation by way of court cases — thus punting the final decisions from the Legislature to a court of five people. In my view that’s irresponsible law making.

The phrase “compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means” is another legal minefield, which has a specific legal meaning. No other provision in our constitution has this language. Why here? This will make it very difficult for the state and the courts to restrict a reproductive right, no matter how harmful it may be to society. Is that wise?

I am pro-choice, and I am concerned about the language in Article 22. I invited Sen. Ginny Lyons to participate in an educational forum about the legal aspects of Article 22 about two weeks before the intended date. She was interested in participating and then suddenly declined at nearly the last minute. I gave the same opportunity to Rep. Ann Pugh, and she likewise declined. I read that Sen. Ruth Hardy also declined an opportunity to discuss the amendment in a public forum in her district. The majority voted for this amendment, yet they will not discuss the specifics of this amendment with their constituents. Why would that be?

The Legislature has left no option for the moderate view of safe, legal, early term abortion supported by most Vermonters and intended in Roe originally. They went beyond Act 47 with a word salad amendment, but seem afraid to discuss it. I am left to think that the proponents are betting Vermont voters will look at this language, believe it to be essential for the preservation of Roe v. Wade, and that it is harmless when neither rationale is true.

Image courtesy of Lou Varricchio/TNR

13 thoughts on “Wendy Wilton: Pro-choice, but opposing Proposal 5/Article 22

  1. A bit taken aback by the Wendy Wilton bashing. She is opposed to both Props – can you ppl take yes for an answer.

    Personally against abortion however vast majority of abortions are done @ home using otc or prescription drugs, before the 3rd trimester, in fact Planned Parenthood mostly refers clients to these forms of abortions. Against surgical abortions due to trauma to the living fetus.

    Morning after meds, and those which are used early are safe and effective.

    There needs to be a middle ground or we will see the rise of the black-market coat-hanger solution. Allowing the at home use of abortive medicines is a compromise. The babykillers are using surgical means to extract fetuses which are than sold for organs-which are removed while the baby is alive-and scientific experimentation.

    Babies are being farmed as an industry via late stage abortions-this is why they wish to allow fourth trimester after birth extractions.

    At-home abortions at the earliest thwarts the abortion industry. If there is outreach and high availability of these early options it will make a dent or end in the real source for the outrage the-Abortion Industrial Complex

  2. Article 22 is a minefield. The language was written by (among others) Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, both of whom stand to make large amounts of additional money (more than they even do currently) if it passes. They have a total vested interest in seeing this wide-open language pass. There are no definitions or restrictions. To cite just one result: Planned Parenthood will make more money selling LATE TERM aborted baby parts to biomedical research labs. You get more money from these labs for later term aborted human fetuses and parts than from abortions done in the first few months. They already do sell these harvested organs. It’s legal. Think what will happen down the line with late-term abortions. The law itself is often called a great moral teacher. This is permissive language. Of course there will be more late-term abortions if there are no restrictions. To say that just because there are few late-term abortions done now in Vermont, in the absence of this language, that that will continue to be the case if this language becomes part of the Vermont Constitution, is naive. The “few” late-term abortions are done in Vermont in the ABSENSE of this type of enabling wording. If you think that will remain the same in the PRESENCE of this language, please look again. As far as the ACLU is concerned, because the language was deliberately left vague and completely undefined and open-ended, as they wrote it, all of the potential lawsuits will go to court. It means lawsuit after lawsuit will be filed by activist groups (or individuals) with particular agendas. And guess who will probably be involved in most of these lawsuits? The ACLU. $$$$. We have already been told that the courts will decide what the language means. This is also a problem regarding the separation of powers. Why would the Legislature pass such vague language that will lead to this consequence? Also, if the State is sued under this language which would now be in the Constitution, the State will have to pay to defend itself against the plaintiff. We taxpayers will pay for it all. Are we really proposing to add a Constitutional amendment that will cost us unlimited money time after time to ensure “reproductive autonomy” for every gender of every age from toddlerhood on up? Do we all have any idea what a can of worms legal language like this will open? No limits are defined. Please, people, look beyond the abortion lobby’s propaganda. This is like a perpetual carbon tax on reproduction and every possible link to that, even a remote one, which we will pay out of our pockets as taxpayers. What happened to “The choice should be between a woman and her doctor”? This language makes all of us party to what we have been told was a private choice. We will pay for it all and be involved in it all. And abortion is just the toe in the door. Think infanticide next. The open-ended “reproductive autonomy” language will surely be tested in this area soon thereafter. No, I am not a lawyer. Yes, this is my personal opinion. But it’s pretty obvious. Read the legal language being proposed! Don’t fall for it!

  3. Wendy professes to be Pro Choice. The horror of killing a Baby in the 3rd term is far too much for her to bear. But cutting one to pieces in the first 6 months of his or her life is a piece of cake.
    Wendy is a member of the VTGOP, she voted to support the Platform which recognizes a Human Baby from Conception.
    But hey, who really cares ?
    Just like Mary Beerworth, the administrator of VT Right to Life. Mary supported Christina Nolan and asked others to contribute to Nolan’s campaign. Because Nolan only supported abortion thru the 2nd Trimester.
    Over 99% of all abortions are the 1st and 2nd Trimester.
    So these people are willing to fight for less than 1% of all Babies aborted.

    Article 22 is a holocaust and must be defeated.

    Maybe Wendy’s next article will address Benning, Beck, Walker, Scheuermann, Leffler and Martin who all claim to be Republican but voted for Prop 5.
    Benning voted for it twice as a State Senator.
    Both Benning and Scott support Article 22 and said they will vote for it in November.

    Everyone who supports Article 22 wants the destruction of the unborn, children and families.
    You can’t be a Republican or Pro Life part time.

  4. Thank you Wendy for speaking the truth beyond political talking points and wedge issues. A breathe of fresh air. God bless you!

  5. I expect the abortion debate to continue, perhaps for several more generations. Look how long we wrestled with property rights inclusion of slaves as property. Mightn’t this be an issue not ready for settlement with laws. The community deliberations have not yet reached any settled consensus. How we, as a community, will impost our choice between a woman’s control of her own body and the death of her child is not an issue that is likely to be settled by a law and definitely not be this draconian constitutional amendment. Such legislative actions will exacerbate the problem.

  6. Wendy,
    You are spot on, vague language, that is the goal of our invisible enemy, the abortion issue is merely the tool used to obtain it!
    The problem is convincing people there is an enemy, when they cannot see beyond the issue selected to keep them at odds with each other.

    The fact senators and Representatives are declining your invitation is a good indication they were perhaps naïve and are now embraced, lets hope they have the courage to come forward before people begin early voting.

    Two days ago The Vermont Daily Chronicle printed my commentary “Distraction & the Invisible Agenda”

    I was trying to point out how our common invisible enemy has a method of operation they use time and time again to confiscate our liberty, getting people to see beyond the issue is difficult, but they must if we are to remain free, so I will keep trying.


    If I wanted to overthrow the protections bestowed on you by your constitution, I would first need a polarizing issue like abortion to hide behind.

    Next, I would use the political party in power to introduce their particular posture on the matter, knowing full well they could pass such a proposal.

    It does not matter which side of an issue is used to create the division necessary for distracting
    those about to lose their constitution, only that they cannot see beyond the tools of the agenda used to procure it.

    Neither side can see what is happening when they are engaged in a blame game of drama and conflict against each other, yet the real prize will be taken equally from both sides in the end. This is because they do not realize how they are being played against each other for the liberty they both hold dear; however, the invisible enemy knows full well the real objective.

    It’s difficult these days to know your enemy, especially when they are invisible to the naked eye. But should we assume just because Proposal 5, Article 22 was passed by the House and Senate all we must do now is vote yes or no without reading and understanding the language of the text?

    Sec. 2. Article 22 of Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution is added to read:

    Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty]
    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.

    ​If you read the entire proposal before you vote, you will see it contains two great unknown quantities.

    The first question is, what justifies a compelling State interest?

    The second is found in (Sec. 1. under PURPOSE), who are the privileged, that government should not confer special advantages to?

    I suspect the privileged would not be allowed equal rights under this amendment, whoever they are?

    The food fight over abortion rights is only a distraction to divide us into two camps, knowing the majority in the legislature could pass a proposal in support of reproductive rights in Vermont.

    But the language of this amendment is the real prize sought after no matter which side of abortion rights you are on, if we fail to recognize this, nothing will remain sacred!

    Do you feel this amendment affords you more protection, or does it simply give government more options for your control?

    It might be a good idea to read the proposal before you vote!

  7. Re: “This (The phrase “compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means”) will make it very difficult for the state and the courts to restrict a reproductive right, no matter how harmful it may be to society.”

    Excuse me. A ‘compelling state interest’ opens the door to court determination (restrictive or expansive). It’s the judicial precept of ‘strict scrutiny’ that will take precedent if this amendment is approved. It guarantees judicial review, not at the behest of any individual (female or male) but at the behest of ‘the state’.

    What Article 22 does not guaranty is what its title describes – Reproductive Liberty.

    • I would argue further than that: An Article of the Constitution has to be self-contained and explicit in its language. It can’t rely on the currently in-vogue meaning of things based on case history. How could the average person vote for something that was based on case law, of which the average person has no knowledge? Even if so, how sturdy would the Constitution be when case law decisions change in the future? As with Roe v Wade.

      Proposition 5 gives the state cart-Blanche authority to decide reproductive issues when it feels compelled. Period.

  8. Wendy Wilton must have a conscience or she’s listening to her constituents
    that do, wake up Vermont, Proposal 5/Article 22 is just more liberal nonsense !!

    Vote No………………………….

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