With the threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned looming over the country, many states are working to restrict or codify an individual’s right to access an abortion.
Federal uncertainty has emboldened conservative-leaning state governments to pass archaic and cruel pieces of legislation with the purpose of completely restricting access to safe abortion procedures. They are essentially stripping individuals of their rights to make their own health care decisions.
Georgia is the most recent state to push through dangerous, anti-abortion legislation. The House passed the so-called “Life Act,” which would effectively outlaw abortions after six weeks. The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a similar bill just hours before. Last month, the Supreme Court just barely blocked a Louisiana law that would have left the state with a single doctor authorized to perform abortions. South Carolina lawmakers have introduced legislation that seeks to criminalize abortion and make a person receiving or performing the procedure subject to a felony charge.
These are just a few examples of the extreme measures being taken by conservatives around the country to legislate an individual’s ability to access safe reproductive health care and make private medical decisions with their health care provider. Here in Vermont, we can’t afford to take our progressive political landscape for granted. We must also act now.
The Legislature is currently considering a bill and a constitutional amendment that would protect the existing rights of individuals to access safe abortion care. H.57 takes what is already in practice, (but not specifically addressed in Vermont law) and finally preserves it in statute. At the same time, the Legislature is considering a constitutional amendment that would preserve this right in the Vermont constitution, ensuring protection under the law and protecting against any future attempts at restriction.
It is crucial that both measures are implemented, as the constitutional amendment will take years to pass, and in the meantime we must take steps to prepare for the very real possibility that the Trump-Pence administration will strip away abortion rights at the federal level much sooner. Vermonters deserve to feel safe and protected, regardless of the frightening political atmosphere in D.C.
So I ask you to please take a moment to email and call your state senators who are now considering both H.57 and the constitutional amendment, and let them know how important both of these measures really are. Not only for Vermont, but as an example for the rest of the country to follow.
Scott Garren is the Vermont Democratic Party Rutland County state committeeman and county treasurer, and a Rights and Democracy Leadership Committee member. These are my personal opinions and do not reflect the positions of these organizations.