State Legislation

Time is running short to defeat state constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion up until birth

By Rep. Anne Donahue

Rep. Anne Donahue

Editor’s note. Anne Donohue is a state legislator from Vermont.

I’m writing from the Green Mountain State of Vermont to share updates on the pitted battle to block a state constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion up to the moment of birth. Some of you may be aware of it already, but here is what the amendment says:

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.”

But here is a breakout of what the language really means:

We are working everyday to defeat this dangerous proposal but our front-line efforts here are a mixture of the disheartening and the hopeful.

We are being deliberately blocked by many of the traditional avenues for getting crucial messaging out. 

News media, with their pro-choice positions, have taken on new rules about restriction of “political issues,” including ballot questions, except as paid ads. The few legislators who had agreed to public debates have all dropped out. They recognized that public forums can only be a loss for them and a gain for us.

We know a majority of Vermonters do not support third trimester abortions, yet the state is being flooded with two messages: that this amendment is necessary to preserve the rights “lost” by the overturning of Roe v Wade (totally false, given Vermont’s current laws! See Act 47), and Vermonters are being told that elective third terms abortions don’t happen. When people recognize those are not accurate statements, many shift their position and are ready to vote, “no.” Getting enough of those shifts is not an insurmountable challenge, but is getter harder and harder. 

I and others in the Vermonters for Good Government Action volunteer group (a non-profit formed to educate Vermonters about the truth of Article 22) have been accepting invitations around the state to speak, but those invitations are coming from, and attract, mostly those who already oppose the amendment. We also have grass roots work going on with door knocking and sign-waving. We know we need to keep doing more and we keep gaining volunteers.

Abortion proponentshave been very clear about wanting this win in particular as a message of encouragement for other states to go this same direction.

We are running out of time and money. Voting in Vermont will start as early as September 25th, when ballots begin to be mailed out to every registered voter. The only open avenue we have left to get the truth out to people is to spend money on advertising messaging. Vermonters have been generous, but our entire population is only around 640,000!  Of course, the upside of being such a small state is that it has fewer people who need to be reached to hit the numbers we need.

Our great hope remains the fact that those who know that this amendment goes through all nine months of pregnancy do shift their votes, so if we can succeed in getting the message out more fully, we can turn this tide – not just here, but on behalf of the next states that will face this hideous new effort to lock abortion into state constitutions. 

Your prayers, and any help among your membership to spread the word, would be most gratefully received.

Rep. Anne Donahue

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