Update: Pr. 5 Constitutional Amendment Public Hearing Wednesday, April 17 ~ State House

The House Committee on Human Services will hold a public hearing on Proposal 5, a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution regarding “personal reproductive liberty,” i.e. abortion, on Wednesday, April 17, from 5:00–7:00 p.m. The hearing will take place in the House Chamber at the State House in Montpelier. Seating is limited. Sign-up to speak will begin at 4:15 p.m. Witness testimony will be limited to two minutes.

The Committee will also accept written testimony at the following e-mail address: [email protected]. Please indicate in the subject line, “Proposal 5 Public Comment”.

A strong turnout of people opposed to Pr. 5 is vital. Please come, even if you do not wish to speak to the Committee, and if you can, WEAR GREEN for life. Arrive early, by 3 pm if possible. VRLC will provide fact sheets and pro-life buttons. The large pro-life turnout at the public hearing on H.57 was noticed by the legislators and the media. Let’s see if we can have an even stronger showing!

Although the stated purpose of the sponsors of the amendment is to enshrine abortion in the Constitution, they refused to include the word abortion, rejecting the advice of the Attorney General’s Office, the ACLU, and Vermont Right to Life that abortion be specifically referenced. Abortion is the right that must not be named. Instead of clearly stating that protecting abortion is the intent, the Committee adopted the dangerously broad and undefined phrase “personal reproductive autonomy.” The proposed language  to be added to the Constitution is:

Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty]
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.

Voters will have the opportunity to vote yes or no on the language on the Nov. 2022 general election ballot. Sen Tim Ashe, chief sponsor of Pr. 5, said putting abortion in our Constitution is like “carving into granite” that women are equal people. VRLC considers Pr. 5 like carving H.57 into granite.