My position on Proposition 5

   Prop 5 contains wording that would add an Article 22 to Chapter 1 of the Vermont State Constitution. The entire text is written in one sentence. “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”.

   Many of the concerns about this amendment center around the right of a woman to have an abortion. When asked during a hearing in April 2019 why the word abortion did not appear in the text, Senator Ginny Lyons, one of the sponsors, replied “..we felt that reproductive liberty includes more than that. And it will allow the Supreme Court interpretation, going further, on those things coming up in the future …”

   When asked in a meeting in Feb. 2019, “So, what would be a compelling state interest?”, Brynn Hare, Legislative Council answered “So that is really up to the court to decide.”

   A comment in A Brief Analysis by the Bioethics Defense Fund on March 11, 2019 states “The operative phrase ‘personal reproductive autonomy’ in the proposed new Article 22 of the Vermont Constitution is not defined. Any ambiguity surrounding the phrase will be resolved ultimately not by the people through their elected representatives, but by the Vermont Supreme Court through litigation, thereby possibly undercutting the very point of putting this amendment to a vote of the people.”

   It is a legislator’s duty to write proposals which reflect the people’s “intended interpretation”. Leaving the interpretation to the judicial branch may lead to unintended consequences. All Vermonters have the right to have laws which are clear and concise. Prop 5 is neither. It is not good legislation. To fulfill the responsibilities of the position of Representative, I cannot support it. I will vote “NO”.

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