Vermont May Become First State To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right
Hey, here's some actual good news for you! Last week, the Vermont House approved Prop 5, which will give voters a chance to add the right to a safe and legal abortion to their state's constitution, along with access to contraception and other reproductive care.
Even those opposed to the measure at least claimed to disagree not on the usual ridiculous anti-choice grounds, but on the grounds that people sometimes change their minds about things, which says a lot about what goes and doesn't go in the state. It also suggests there is a pretty good chance Prop 5 will succeed.
Opponents [...] say a constitutional amendment’s permanency is the exact reason such a step should not be taken, and that the issue should instead be handled with legislation. What if, in the future, Vermonters disagree with the language? Many opponents of the measure also are inherently opposed to abortion.
Before voting no on the proposal, Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, said in a Tuesday floor speech that her issue with Prop 5 was that “it takes a deeply ethical dilemma that divides good people … and it chooses the most absolute extreme of one side of a debate” and enshrines it in the state constitution. In retrospect, she said, legislators’ perspectives on the issue may change.
“Good people have, in the past, made grievous mistakes and violated human rights, whether through imperialism or slavery or eugenics,” she said. “Perspectives of time make us recognize the evil, but in their time, they were in accord with their society’s values.”
Other signs it may succeed include that it is supported by the state's Republican governor, Phil Scott; about 70 percent of the state believes abortion should remain legal; and finally, the one anti-choice lady representing the citizen opposition says she can't think of any possible legal challenge to it should it go through.
While Vermont is not as straightforwardly liberal as many people assume -- they just voted a Republican governor into office and honestly the northern part of the state tends to veer at least fiscally conservative, plus they do like their hunting -- there is, like many other New England states, a particular sort of independent streak and an aversion to other people being in their business. This is why they were the first state to have same-sex civil unions — all the way back in the year 2000 — and the first state to legalize same-sex marriage on their own, without being forced to through a court decision.
Roe v. Wade, essentially, is about allowing people to make their own decisions when it comes to their own bodies and not having the state interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. While comparisons have recently been drawn to the anti-vaccine movement, it's very much not the same thing, particularly since most anti-vaxxers are not refusing the vaccine after consulting with their doctors on what is best for them, but because they are afraid Bill Gates is going to Mark of the Beast them or something. No one is actually forcing people to get the vaccine, they are simply saying, as has been said since the dawn of vaccines, "if you're not vaccinated, you cannot be in certain spaces." It's called freedom of association, which we all have except as it concerns protected classes of people.
On the other side of things, the less nice side of things, West Virginia went the opposite route last week and rescinded its vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). While the state legislature had once voted unanimously to support the ERA, women are perhaps less popular in West Virginia these days than they were in 1972. Of course, given the fact that the Supreme Court decided that ERA ratifications have all expired, this is a largely symbolic victory for West Virginia against those darn bra-burning feminists.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse