Vermont lawmakers and advocates meet to discuss reproductive freedom

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BURLINGTON, Vermont – Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch have met with various advocates working to repeal anti-abortion laws in Texas and ensure these rights are protected in Vermont.

The panel discussion included representatives from Planned Parenthood of Vermont, the ACLU of Vermont, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the Vermont Legislature.

Following the recent Supreme Court ruling that allowed the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws to come into effect in Texas, some Vermont lawmakers believe the ongoing effort to amend the Vermont Constitution is the most important step they can take to secure reproductive rights in Green Mountain State.

“Right now we have this basic right in this state, and we have had it for almost 50 years following Roe v. Wade,” said Senator Ginny Lyons. “But this is only a right following legal cases.”

Proposition 5, which was first introduced by Representative Ann Pugh in January 2019, would guarantee reproductive rights regardless of any future Supreme Court decisions. It’s a long process to amend the Vermont Constitution, but the House is expected to give its final approval early next year, and voters could step in as early as November 2022.

“Vermont policy has long recognized that decisions related to reproductive health and abortion are deeply personal and private, and best left to the individual and his or her health care provider,” said the representing Pugh. “Support. 5 keeps things as they are today and as they have been for half a century. I believe voters in Vermont will agree.

As Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch return to Washington, they will focus on a similar effort at the federal level. The “Law on the Protection of Women’s Health” would guarantee reproductive freedom throughout the country. The two representatives from Vermont spoke about the importance of the legislation given the situation in Texas.

“It’s not just an attack on women’s rights, not just an attack on human rights, it’s another effort to try to divide us,” Sanders said.

“I don’t think anyone in Vermont in their wildest dreams would think Texas would pass such an outrageous and unconstitutional law,” Welch said.

We also spoke with Falko Schilling, director of advocacy for the ACLU of Vermont.

“This is a case that we are challenging in the courts, we shouldn’t have to be, it’s clearly unconstitutional and should be struck down, and it’s deeply, deeply troubling that the Supreme Court has left this law behind. in effect for as long as it does, as it has had devastating effects on the people who live in Texas.

Other speakers on Monday included Melinda Moulton, for whom developments in Texas bring back the pain of losing her mother nearly 60 years ago.

11 years before Roe v. Wade, Moulton said her mother went to a “secret hospital”, suffered complications from a procedure and died five months later. It was three days before Christmas.

“Women cannot achieve full equality if we are not allowed to control our own bodies,” Moulton said. “Women’s reproductive freedom is a human right, and most Vermonters agree. Adopting Proposition 5 is an extremely crucial step in ensuring that we will never, ever allow anyone to force us back to the days when women like my mother face humiliations and life-threatening procedures that cost them. often life.

Representative Welch said the Women’s Health Protection Act is expected to be put to a vote in the House this week and believes it will pass. Senator Sanders said his future in the Senate was less clear – some Democrats are against it, while some Republicans have expressed support.


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