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Advocates push to preserve abortion rights in Vermont Constitution

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Abortion advocates made their case in Burlington on Monday, pushing for change on the state and federal levels.

They are focusing on two efforts. The first is an upcoming vote in the U.S. House on a bill drafted after Texas enacted the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion law. The second is an effort to change Vermont’s Constitution.

“I wanna say a word to the men out there-- I want you all to think how you would feel if the government, the state government, federal government, told you what you had to do with your own body. You’d say this is outrageous. This is unacceptable. This is a denial of my basic rights. And it is,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

“I’ve seen the devastation of what can happen when legislation heads in an anti-choice direction-- and I am so ready to see the growth and safety that comes when a state does the opposite,” said Kalin Gregory Davis, a medical student at UVM.

Gregory Davis will begin training to provide abortions in the next few months. She is in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee Vermonters’ right to abortion.

“Here in Vermont we’re fighting back in our own way and we’re working to ensure that everyone’s reproductive liberty is enshrined in Vermont’s Constitution,” said Falko Schilling of the Vermont ACLU.

Lawmakers in favor of this amendment say the goal is to protect Vermonters’ abortion rights, especially given what is happening in the rest of the nation.

“A threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned by a very conservative Supreme Court, and a cloud of a multistate initiative to pass restrictive, punitive laws,” said Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden County.

Lawmakers note that this amendment could serve as a ripple effect for other states in the country to follow suit.

“Vermont has often lead the way on matters of individual freedom and once again, Vermonters are stepping up,” said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont.

And on the federal level, a bill to guarantee access to abortion across the country. The U.S. House is set to vote this week on the Women’s Health Protection Act.

“I believe it will pass in the House but I think it probably faces more challenges in the Senate,” Welch said.

Changing Vermont’s Constitution is a long process.

The amendment passed the Senate. Now, the House needs to sign off. If that happens, it goes on the ballot in November 2022.

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