PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
OF THE STATE OF VERMONT
Offered by: Senators Ashe, Balint, Lyons and Sears
Subject: Declaration of rights; right to personal reproductive liberty
Sec. 1. PURPOSE
(a) This proposal would amend the Constitution of the State of Vermont to ensure that every Vermonter is afforded personal reproductive liberty. The Constitution is our founding legal document stating the overarching values of our society. This amendment is in keeping with the values espoused by the current Vermont Constitution. Chapter I, Article 1 declares “That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights.” Chapter I, Article 7 states “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people.” The core value reflected in Article 7 is that all people should be afforded all the benefits and protections bestowed by the government, and that the government should not confer special advantages upon the privileged. This amendment would reassert the principles of equality and personal liberty reflected in Articles 1 and 7 and ensure that government does not create or perpetuate the legal, social, or economic inferiority of any class of people. This proposed constitutional amendment is not intended to limit the scope of rights and protections afforded by Article 7 or any other provision in the Vermont Constitution.
(b) The right to reproductive liberty is central to the exercise of personal autonomy and involves decisions people should be able to make free from compulsion of the State. Enshrining this right in the Constitution is critical to ensuring equal protection and treatment under the law and upholding the right of all people to health, dignity, independence, and freedom.
Sec. 2. Article 22 of Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution is added to read:
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.
Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE
The amendment set forth in Sec. 2 shall become a part of the Constitution of the State of Vermont on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November 2022 when ratified and adopted by the people of this State in accordance with the provisions of 17 V.S.A. chapter 32.