SCOTUS abortion ruling sparks impassioned response

Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 5:22 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Americans faced a seismic shift in federal abortion law Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

By a 6 to 3 vote, the court’s conservative majority undid nearly 50 years of precedent that is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

Advocates who support and who oppose the decision were out in force in cities and towns across the region, including Church Street in Burlington, where hundreds gathered Friday evening.

The majority of people we spoke to were against sending the right to have an abortion back to the states.

“It’s their body, it’s their right to have that decision. Nobody else has that right to make that decision for them. There are too many circumstances -- and talking about it has given me goosebumps, just talking about it. It’s not fair for someone else to make that decision for anybody,” said Wendy Thibault of Colchester.

“I’m very upset. It definitely feels like the same people who are overturning it are the same people who don’t care about immigrants’ rights and they are for the death penalty and stuff like that,” said Alexis Drown of Milton.

“My opinion on that is that’s a woman’s body, she should have the right to do what she wants with it. No one else should be making that choice for her,” said Paul Gregory of Ferrisburgh.

Some have more nuanced opinions. Susan Carminati only supports abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, and the Duxbury woman likes the idea of the federal government getting out of the way. “I’m glad they overturned it for now and let’s see what the states will do. I don’t think that the federal government should have a say so in every state,” she said.

Others, like Marcus Szczecinski of Starksboro, think abortion should not be permitted at all. “Every life is valuable, every life is precious. I understand that many people have concerns and I would just hope and pray as a country we can come together to take care of men and women that weren’t expecting a pregnancy, that we can care enough to love them,” he said.

There was also concern about the path forward for the country. “Isn’t that kind of against what our whole country was supposed to stand for -- is freedom. We are kind of going back to the old ways of things that we were supposed to move on from,” said Raven Dexter.

“I think it’s a really awful thing. I think it’s setting a precedence in this country and I think it’s setting us way behind. We are going backward instead of forward,” said Kristy Trask of Westford.


While about 26 states are poised to now significantly restrict or altogether ban abortions, a 2019 Vermont law preserves a person’s fundamental right to reproductive choice. Pro-choice advocates are mourning the ruling and pushing for further protections included in Proposition 5, which guarantees the right to abortion in the state constitution. Pro-life advocates are celebrating the High Court’s decision, but opposing Vermont protections.

“It’s a long time coming and a long time overdue,” said Mary Hahn Beerworth, the executive director of Vermont Right to Life.

“I felt it in my whole body. I was sick. I felt physically ill,” said Lucy Leriche, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund.

Now, both women are turning their attention to what comes next. Beerworth is condemning Vermont’s sweeping, no-limits abortion law through which a woman can terminate a pregnancy at any stage of development. She calls the statute shocking. “All nine months of pregnancy for any reason, and there can be no protection for an unborn child no matter what,” she said.

Leriche says she’s grateful to live in a state with this policy. “The right to abortion is health care and this is a personal decision. I think we’re pretty united as a state, where we don’t want politicians making health care decisions for us,” she said.

Planned Parenthood Northern New England says is pledging to do everything in its power to elevate reproductive liberty protections. They’re also pushing Prop 5, confident impassioned Vermonters will vote to pass the constitutional amendment in November.

Beerworth says Vermont Right to Life will be working diligently to “expose” what prop 5 really means and does. In particular, she says many opponents object to the language. “The use of the word ‘individual’ will mean your minor children, and they will be making adult decisions about personal reproductive autonomy without your input as a parent or grandparent or guardian,” she said.

Beerworth also thinks the Green Mountain State will see an uptick in women crossing the border to get an abortion, especially if Prop 5 passes.

Planned Parenthood officials maintain that since abortion is legal in all of New England, they don’t anticipate a huge influx, though they stress that the future is uncertain.

Related Stories:

Local lawmakers react to overruling of Roe v. Wade

Will Vermont become abortion haven post Roe v. Wade?

What goes into the decision to terminate a pregnancy?

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