A leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that overturns the right to abortion in the Unites States has provoked strong reaction from elected officials and advocates in the region.
In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott said a Vermont law protects abortion rights in Vermont. He reminded voters that they can amend the state constitution to guarantee that right in November when the Reproductive Liberty Amendment appears on the statewide ballot.
The amendment, also known as Prop 5, passed the House and Senate in 2019 and again in the Senate in 2021. Scott signed it earlier this year.
“The fundamental rights and liberties of all women will be defended, protected and preserved in Vermont,” Scott said.
“Although no one can know for sure that this draft will be the final opinion, I want Vermonters to be assured that this state has prepared for this possibility,” he said.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who describes himself as supporter of abortion rights, said the procedure will remain “safe and legal” in the state as long as he is governor. However, last year Sununu signed a law that bans abortion after 24 weeks, with few exceptions, and anyone seeking a legal abortion must have an ultrasound.
Meanwhile, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference, issued a statement on behalf of House leadership that called for an investigation of the leaked draft opinion. She claimed the leak was a “coordinated campaign to intimidate and obstruct the Justices of the United States Supreme Court.”
“House Republicans are committed to upholding the sanctity of life, and we will continue to fight to be a voice for the truly voiceless,” the statement said. “There is nothing more special, extraordinary, and worth fighting for than the miracle of life.”
Echoing Scott, the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, the advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said legal abortion is protected in Vermont.
“If the Supreme Court allows states to ban abortion, we do not anticipate immediate changes to abortion laws in Vermont,” said Lucy Leriche, vice president of public affair for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund. “But elections matter. If a majority of anti-abortion politicians take control of the legislature, they could pass laws restricting or even banning abortion.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy in a statement said the opinion, if issued by the court, “could send us tumbling backward in time, stripping away a bedrock constitutional right that has granted women autonomy over their bodies and health for nearly five decades.”
And he accused the conservative majority on the Supreme Court of “ungrounded judicial activism.”
“If this is the direction in which this Supreme Court is headed, it would do irreparable damage to whatever remaining trust Americans have in our judiciary as an independent, apolitical branch of our government,” Leahy said.