In the wake of a new Texas law banning nearly all abortions in the Lone Star State, Vermont reproductive rights supporters gathered at City Hall Park in downtown Burlington. Planned Parenthood and several other groups hosted a rally on the City Hall steps Friday evening.
Kelsey Crelin of West Glover was pregnant with a daughter 11 years ago. Doctors learned her daughter’s brain stem and spinal cord weren’t developing, meaning that she would have no cognitive function even if she survived. Crelin told attendees she’s grateful that abortion was an option for her.
“Reproductive rights are something that affects, collaterally, every person,” she said. “We can give such a better quality of life to everybody if we have these basic rights taken care of.”
When she says ‘reproductive rights’, Crelin isn’t only speaking of abortion. She’s also referring to contraception, family planning and other services.
“Reproductive rights, passing that bill, gives such basic rights to resources and education and so much more than the buzzwords that we like to throw around,” she said.
‘That bill’ is Proposal 5. It would amend the Vermont constitution to include a right to personal reproductive liberty, something no U.S. state has ever done within its founding document.
“This is a top priority for us, and we will be taking it up sometime in January,” Vermont House Speaker Jill Krowinski said. “Obviously, we will have a public hearing to hear from Vermonters across the state about this important initiative.”
Once Proposal 5 comes to the House floor for a vote, Speaker Krowinski is confident her chamber will pass it.
“I think it is incredibly important and great that we have tri-partisan support for Prop 5,” she said. “And I think that we need to continue in a tri-partisan way to raise our voices and speak up when we see other states going backwards.”
If the Vermont House does pass Proposal 5 next year, voters throughout the Green Mountain State will decide its fate on next year’s November ballot.
The New York legislature approved a similar measure — the Reproductive Health Act — in January 2019. However, it doesn’t take the additional step of amending the Empire State’s constitution.