MONTPELIER – On Wednesday, dozens of Vermonters weighed in on a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution regarding abortion rights.

The ‘Reproductive Liberty Amendment’, also known as Prop 5, has passed the Vermont Senate twice, and the Vermont House of Representatives is days away from holding its final vote.

Approval from the House is all that’s standing between the proposed amendment and a statewide vote in November.

That would be far from the first time Vermonters have made their voices heard on Prop 5, because as this lengthy process has unfolded, there’s been passionate testimony on both sides.

“The choice when and if to parent is intensely personal, it’s heavy and complex for some, certain and easy for others, but it must be made without interference from politicians,” said Gena Zollman of Vermont Access to Reproductive Freedom.

“What exactly is meant by ‘reproductive autonomy?” asked Carrie Handy of the Vermont Family Alliance. “And why are there no age restrictions? Abortion rights are already well protected in Vermont, but Vermont’s family and children increasingly are not.”

Prop 5 is intended to safeguard the right to reproductive liberty granted under Roe v. Wade, regardless of any future decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

For some speakers at Wednesday’s public hearing, Vermont’s acceptance and network of abortion services were the reason they moved here.

“I have a chromosome abnormality that puts me at great risk for miscarriage and stillbirth,” one speaker said. “In Arizona, if I was given an ‘incompatible with life’ diagnosis, I would’ve had to have a mandatory ultrasound, a 24 hour wait period, and since my issues could only be diagnosed with invasive testing after ten weeks, I would only have one clinic in the entire state that could help me.”

If the amendment is passed by the House and approved by voters in November, Article 22 of the Vermont Constitution would read the following:

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.

Proposed Reproductive Liberty Amendment to the Vermont Constitution

Those against the amendment have often argued the language is too vague, or that the amendment itself is unnecessary.

“It would not allow the people of Vermont to actually have a real understanding to define what personal reproductive autonomy is,” said John Schnobrich. “It seems like that would be defined then by somebody else, a court of law or lawyers.”

“Many legal experts have already noted that even in the unlikely event that the Supreme Court would rule in a manner that overturns Roe v. Wade, there would be no impact on Vermont’s current laws,” said Matthew Strong.

Others said the urgency is warranted. The Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi case that could overturn the 1973 ruling. Mississippi officials have asked the 6-3 conservative court to abolish Roe v. Wade.

“Now we are faced with the strong possibility that approximately half of the U.S. could soon restrict abortion rights and other reproductive health services,” said Steve Finner. “Vermont can set an excellent example.”

“Let me be very frank, women will always choose their own reproductive destiny, and the reality is it will either be at the dangerous end of a coat hanger or it will remain safe in the capable trained hands of a professional,” said Melinda Moulton. “For our daughters and our granddaughters, we must ensure it is the latter.”