Local lawmakers react to overruling of Roe v. Wade

Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 10:51 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Lawmakers and state officials from around the region are reacting to Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion.

The 6-3 ruling in the Mississippi case comes more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.

Vermont is not going to see any immediate changes to the availability of abortion. That’s because abortion is legal in Vermont at all stages of pregnancy. The law passed in 2019 recognizes an individual’s fundamental right to reproductive choice. Proposition 5, if approved by voters in November, will solidify that protection by amending the state constitution.

New York this year passed a series of bills to protect abortion rights, but failed to pass a measure to add it to the state constitution.

Attempts to enshrine abortion rights into New Hampshire state law failed this spring at the Statehouse. Since January, the state has outlawed the procedure after 24 weeks gestation, with exceptions only for pregnancies that threaten the mother’s life or health.

Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vt.

“I know many Vermonters like me are deeply disappointed following today’s decision by the Supreme Court, as this decision rolls back a federal right that women have had for decades. It’s Important to note, a woman’s right to choose is a principle we will uphold in Vermont, and we, in fact, have prepared for this unfortunate outcome.

“In 2019, I signed a law that affirmed the fundamental rights of all women and ensured reproductive health decisions remain between a woman and her health care provider. That does not change with this ruling.

“Additionally, in November, Vermonters will be able to further solidify this action with a constitutional amendment on the ballot. As I have said, I will be voting for that amendment, and I encourage Vermonters to stand up for the rights of women and do the same.

“To that end, In the coming days, I will formally provide public notice to Vermonters, as required by the Vermont Constitution and state statute, that Proposal 5, a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution passed by the General Assembly, will appear on the November general election ballot.

“Further, I call on Congress to immediately work to codify the right to choose for all Americans as we have done for Vermonters.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“Today’s opinion from a narrow majority of the Court is not the end of abortion. It is the end of a woman’s right to safe reproductive health care. It is the end of women’s choice. It sets us back. It does not move us forward.

What message does this send to women? That their choice — that their right to govern their bodies — doesn’t matter? That politicians know better?

State legislatures cannot write their way through the myriad of circumstances that can arise for women in pregnancy. These states, though, say today that they know best. The Court, today, says that those state legislatures know best. No, not the 163 million women in this country. Not a woman about her own body. Government knows best.

For years I have heard Republicans in the Senate talk about limited government, about their worries that government interferes too much with our daily lives. Today, I ask them, is there any more significant interference than that of getting between a woman, or any person, and their health care choices? This is hypocrisy of the highest order.

Americans come to court to find justice. To find protection under the law. Today, the Supreme Court abandons that role. I fear for what it means for the progress we have fought hard to achieve. For our more perfect union. For generations to come.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

“Six Supreme Court justices, including some who in their nomination hearings called the case ‘important precedent,’ today did exactly what the American people did not want and overturned Roe v. Wade. In the year 2022 they have made the outrageous and reactionary assertion that women in our country should not be able to control their own bodies. This decision cannot be allowed to stand. If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe. That is exactly what we must do NOW.”

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.

“The choice to end a pregnancy is personal. It is a choice that should be made by a patient, with her doctor, and her loved ones, not by the unelected members of any court or by an elected official. The overturning of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court is the biggest attack on women’s rights in a generation and will rob women of their right to chart their own futures, for themselves and for their families. This decision is a disgrace. I am angry, and I am worried for the health and wellbeing of women across this country who are no longer guaranteed their reproductive freedom.

But we cannot be consumed by despair. We have to keep fighting to protect abortion access for all American women, regardless of where they live. That means codifying the right to safe and legal abortion by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate. To do that, we must overturn the filibuster, so that the Senate can finally reflect the will of the majority of Americans and ensure the right to safe and legal abortion.

I will not give up this fight. I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with women across the country to restore abortion rights nationwide.”

Lt. Gov. Molly Gray. D-Vt.

“Today will go down as a tragic day in the fight for human rights and women’s rights. Never in my lifetime has an established fundamental right been stripped away. SCOTUS has failed spectacularly in its duty to protect and uphold the constitutional precedent.

Every Vermonter and American is owed the right to reproductive liberty, and here in Vermont, we will do everything in our power to protect it.

I encourage Vermonters to channel their outrage and take action by passing Proposal 5 this fall to enshrine reproductive liberty in our Vermont Constitution. At the federal level, we must codify Roe. With that precedent now officially upended, this must happen now.

Vermonters will always step forward when our country steers off course. It’s time, again, for us to be a north star for the nation, to stand together and lead the way toward a safer and more just future for all.”

Gov. Chris Sununu, R-N.H.

“Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.

“Today, the Supreme Court – enabled by politicians who have spent years stacking the Court with radical and extremist justices – has decided to take away a woman’s most fundamental freedom: her bodily autonomy. And in doing so, the Court pulled women — and our country—backwards to a time when women were second-class citizens.

“Women have both the capacity and the conscience to make difficult and complicated decisions about their health and their lives. That a majority of the Supreme Court disagrees with that proposition is deeply disturbing. This decision will have a profound impact on women, the economy, and our democracy. The Court’s determination that half of the country’s population – women — should be denied full and equal citizenship goes against our country’s values.

“Make no mistake, the end of Roe is not the ultimate goal of anti-choice extremists: Mitch McConnell has made it clear that the ultimate objective is to ban abortion nationwide. Our most important objective must be to hold the line against any efforts to enact a nationwide ban that would send a woman and her doctor to jail for having an abortion.

“The danger now facing women and our country is real and it is grave. In denying a woman the right to make her own decisions free from the interference of politicians, the Supreme Court has sent us back 50 years. For the first time in our country’s history, our daughters will grow up with fewer rights than their mothers had. This decision will do everlasting harm to women, jeopardizing their health and allowing them to be charged with a crime for making their own decisions about their bodies.

“We cannot let today’s decision be the final word concerning a woman’s freedom. I will keep fighting to protect a woman’s autonomy and her ability to fully participate in our democracy. And I will keep encouraging all Granite Staters— and all Americans—to hold accountable politicians who would substitute their own personal judgments for that of the women that they claim to represent.”

Rep. Annie Kuster, D- N.H.

“I am devastated, but not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. A generation of women came to rely on the fundamental right to make their own personal reproductive decisions, and all of that progress ends today. This ruling will have an immediate, detrimental impact on women and their health, autonomy, and freedom across our country.

“The right to a safe, legal abortion has been the law of the land for nearly five decades, and essential reproductive health care should be available to everyone, regardless of where they live. Today’s Supreme Court ruling inserts the government directly into the private lives of women and their families, and that is not what Granite Staters want. Although this decision is a setback, we will not give up the fight for women’s reproductive freedom. The House passed legislation to codify the precedent of Roe v. Wade — I will continue working with my colleagues to do everything in our power to protect the rights, freedoms, and personal privacy of millions of women and families in our country.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

“This is a dark day for our country. Like millions of Americans who awoke to a terrifying new reality today, I am gutted by the Supreme Court’s decision to turn back 50 years of precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade. My heart breaks for mothers and grandmothers who marched and fought to secure this watershed achievement, and for the girls who now face a grim future without access to life-saving health care and fewer fundamental rights. The highest court in the land failed half of the country today,

Make no mistake: this decision jeopardizes women’s lives. It won’t stop abortions from happening – it will just make them dangerous and potentially deadly. I remember what it was like before Roe. I had friends who sought back-alley abortions. We cannot go back – that’s why I’ve always been committed to building a future that empowers women to control our own bodies and our own futures. Decisions around when and how to start families should belong to us – not extreme politicians or unelected jurists who have no understanding of the circumstances and won’t live with the consequences.

This decision casts women as second class citizens and cannot become the new status quo. We must channel our mourning and outrage into action, demanding new laws in Congress and in state legislatures across the country to preserve this fundamental human right. And we need to raise our voices like never before at the polls this November to elect leaders who actually trust women. Today, we grieve. Tomorrow, we fight.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-New York

“Today, the Supreme Court took away the right of millions of Americans to make decisions about their own bodies. This decision is a grave injustice.

“I want everyone to know that abortion remains safe, accessible, and legal in New York. Just last month, in anticipation of this decision, I made an historic $35 million investment to support our state’s network of abortion providers. Last week, thanks to the partnership of Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie, I signed a landmark, nation-leading package of legislation that further protects the rights of patients and empowers reproductive healthcare providers.

“The right to reproductive healthcare is a fundamental human right. History shows us that when abortion is banned, abortion becomes unsafe for women. Low-income individuals and people of color will be harmed the most.

“New York has always been a beacon for those yearning to be free. Our state will always be a safe harbor for those seeking access to abortion care. To anyone who is working to deny abortion access, our message is clear: not here, not now, not ever.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

“Today’s historic Supreme Court decision is a victory for the sanctity of life, it will save countless innocent children.

House Republicans are incredibly grateful for the pro-life movement’s tireless efforts for decades leading to this day to give a voice to the voiceless and protect our most vulnerable - unborn babies.

As a new mom, I know that there is nothing more extraordinary than the miracle of life. Hearing Sam’s heartbeat for the first time was the greatest blessing and gift for our family. And I stand unified with my Republican colleagues in protecting and promoting the right to life.”

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Will Vermont become abortion haven post Roe v. Wade?

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