By Guy Page
Prop 5, the proposed amendment to enshrine abortion in the Vermont Constitution, has been passed 28-2 by the Senate and is scheduled to be discussed in House Human Services.
A public hearing will be held at 5 p.m. April 17 in the hall of the House of Representatives. Those who wish to testify must sign up early.
The proposed Article 22 [personal reproductive liberty] reads: “That the people are guaranteed the liberty and dignity to determine their own life’s course. The right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty protected by this Constitution and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
Article 22 does not specifically mention abortion. However, the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund seems to understand the intent, writing to its supporters April 5 that “Vermont is the first state in history to advance a constitutional amendment on abortion rights.”
The ACLU, the Vermont Attorney General, and Vermont Right to Life all suggested in committee hearings that the word “abortion” be used in the purpose language of Prop 5. However, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee declined to use the word. Under the constitutional amendment process, that language cannot be changed.
When asked about the choice to not use the word “abortion,” a Senate Health and Welfare committee member yesterday said the committee was trying to be more inclusive than just protecting a woman’s right to an abortion. For example, it also would prohibit the government from forcing women to have abortions, as has been practiced in China, the committee member said.
H.57, the House bill that would legislate unrestricted abortion, will get an introductory run-through at 9 a.m. Friday in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
The unexpectedly popular movie “Unplanned” will screen this weekend at Bennington Cinemas, beginning with a 4 p.m. showing Friday. The theater is located near the intersection of Main and North streets in Bennington. Click here for showtimes.
“Unplanned” is a true story about Abby Johnson, who left a position as a Planned Parenthood clinic director to become a key figure in the anti-abortion movement. Ms. Johnson was the keynote speaker at the Vermont Right to Life annual rally in 2015. Since opening earlier this year, the film has been in the top 10 nationwide, despite (or perhaps because of) opposition from within the entertainment and media industry.
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.