Vt, NY, NH respond to leaked Roe v. Wade decision

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 8:19 AM EDT|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - If the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade -- as a leaked draft opinion appears to show -- abortions would still be legal in Vermont and New York. In New Hampshire, where lawmakers and the governor last year imposed a late-term ban, the future is less certain.

The draft court opinion obtained by Politico suggests the high court may overturn the case that legalized abortion nationwide. The Supreme Court Tuesday confirmed that the draft was real but not final. It was set to decide on the Mississippi case possibly by June. If that happens, states would regulate abortions and they would not be federally protected. About half of U.S. states are expected to ban abortion if Roe falls and 13 states have so-called trigger laws that would immediately ban abortion if it is overturned. Democrats vowed to fight the possible removal of abortion rights, while most Republicans cheered the draft opinion and condemned the leak.

Under Vermont’s Freedom of Choice Act, abortion is legal in the state. Additionally, Vermont voters in November will weigh in on an amendment to the state Constitution -- the Personal Reproductive Liberty Amendment -- after it got final approval from Vermont lawmakers in February.

Governor Phil Scott, the rare Republican lawmaker who has spoken out in support of a woman’s right to choose, said he will vote in support of that amendment. He called the draft opinion a step backward for civil rights and is worried about the precedent it could set on other established rights.

“What it does is create a mistrust in government, In some respects, like, what’s next? Whether it’s LGBTQ or the right to marry and so forth,” Scott said.

“Today’s news threatens to propel us toward the politicization of our independent judiciary, and that should alarm every American,” Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said in a statement.

“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW,” Sen. Bernie Sanders. I-Vermont, said in a statement.

Congressman Peter Welch, D-Vermont, echoed those sentiments, pushing for the Senate to codify Roe. “The House has passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the Senate must do so as well,” he said.


Our Darren Perron spoke with Vermont Law School constitutional law expert Jared Carter about what an eventual U.S. Supreme Court decision could mean for people in our region and around the country.


New York’s Reproductive Health Act of 2019 expanded abortion rights, decriminalized abortion, and eliminated several restrictions on abortion in the state.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, on Tuesday vowed that the Senate will hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law. “We will vote on protecting a women’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every senator stands on,” Schumer said.

Governor Kathy Hochul, D-New York, said “New York will always be a place where abortion rights are protected.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, took aim at the source of the leak, calling it “an attempt to severely damage the Supreme Court.” She said the GOP is “committed to upholding the sanctity of life.”


Reaction to the news rippled across New Hampshire, where some lawmakers say the state is not doing enough to protect women’s reproductive rights.

New Hampshire lawmakers and Gov. Chris Sununu last year limited access to abortions. Since January, the state has outlawed abortion after 24 weeks gestation, with exceptions only for pregnancies that threaten the mother’s life or health. That law was recently modified for cases in which the fetus has been diagnosed with “abnormalities incompatible with life.”

Gov. Chris Sununu, R-New Hampshire, despite signing last year’s ban, has insisted he remains pro-choice. “As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I am proud of the bipartisan bill headed to my desk this year that expands access. So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal,” Sununu said in a statement Tuesday.

“If press reports are accurate -- that a majority of the Supreme Court of the United States is poised to overrule nearly 50 years of precedent concerning the right of privacy of American people, every Republican politician should be asked where they stand, and the people of New Hampshire should know that House Democrats stand ready to fight for their right to choose,” House Democratic Leader Rep. David Cote, D-Nashua, said in a statement.

Rep. Annie Kuster, D-New Hampshire, called the draft opinon, if true, “a heinous attack on women and disregards a half-century of precedent upholding the constitutional right to abortion and the rights of women to make their own reproductive choices.”

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