Vermont recently became the first state in the country where lawmakers have voted to amend the state constitution to protect the right to an abortion.
Bu that was just the first step in a process that will take years.
On Monday, a House committee held a public hearing on Proposal 5, which would guarantee woman the right to abortion. Supporters have said it’s an effort to preclude potential attempts by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Opposition to the proposal was strong.
Lynne Caulfield, a registered nurse from Charlotte, says she believes Proposal 5 is a byproduct of a society that has lost its conscience.
“When a baby dies, the world mourns, but when 60 million unborn lives are exterminated since Roe v. Wade, those in power want to enshrine this so-called women’s right to abortion,” Caulfield said.
Delia Warnecke of Poultney said Vermont should nlot become a state “mothers can flee to to kill their children.
“A U.S. state of integrity protects its citizens, especially its most vulnerable,” she said.
But supporters defended the proposal as necessary to reverse the erosion of reproductive rights seen in other states.
University of Vermont medical student Kalin Gregory-Davis is from Texas, where new abortion restrictions in 2013 forced 35 of the state’s 41 abortion clinics to close.
She says she doesn’t want to see it happen that happen in Vermont.
“As a student midwife, I knew women were obtaining abortions illegally and without provider support, and I saw many women who were becoming mothers because there was no other option,” she said.
Jennifer Hoult, an attorney from Wallingford, told lawmakers that biologically, fetuses are potential human life and do not have the same legal rights.
“We may not condone other people’s use of their bodies, but our Constitution protects us from enslavement to others’ beliefs,” Hoult said. “We should work assiduously to reduce unwanted pregnanices, but we must never enslave our neighbors.”
But Roland Laverty, an 11-year-old boy from Essex, said a fetus is a baby.
“Which word you choose changes your view,” he said. “I see only babies in pregnant bellies. I’d never kill a baby, and I don’t think you would, either.”
If both the House and Senate pass Proposal 5 this year, by law it would have to be voted on again in the 2021-22 legislative session. The final step would be for Proposal 5 to go to voters in November 2022.