Less than two months before the November election, the push is on to make Vermont the first state in the country to guarantee reproductive rights in its constitution.
Initially known as ‘Prop 5’, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment will appear on the November ballot as Article 22.
Opponents of the measure, including a group called Vermonters for Good Government, argue that Article 22 will open the door to elective abortions in the third trimester
“We could well see an increase if access couldn’t be denied for cases that are really not at all appropriate for a late-term abortion,” said Anne Donahue, a spokesperson for the group.
Meanwhile, supporters of Article 22, counter that such late-term abortions are very rare. According to data from the Vermont Department of Health, less than 1% of abortions in Vermont are performed after 21 weeks.
“Our opposition is claiming that this would somehow increase the frequency of elective third-trimester abortions or make them available,” said Sam Donnelly of Reproductive Liberty Amendment Coalition. “But the facts are third-trimester abortions do not occur in Vermont, and that will not change if the amendment passes the vote.”
Opponents also argue that by referring to “individuals” instead of women, Article 22 will give men rights that would compete with a pregnant woman’s.
“I would hope that it would be rejected because it is not the position even of pro-choice voters if they are aware of it,” Donahue said.
Donahue says she hopes state lawmakers will draft regulations that reflect “the majority of Vermonters” and restrict late-term abortions.
If Article 22 is approved by voters, restricting or regulating abortion at any time during pregnancy would be prohibited under the Vermont Constitution.