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Vermont organizations respond to U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling

West façade of the Supreme Court Building.
West façade of the Supreme Court Building.

The right to an abortion is legal under Vermont law and will remain available to women in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade. But the high court’s move is still raising concerns among reproductive rights advocates in the state.

Officials from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England emphasize that while the Supreme Court has overturned a five-decades old right for women, abortion will remain legal and available in Vermont. Never-the-less, Vice President of Public Affairs Lucy Leriche called it a dangerous and chilling decision.

“By overturning Roe vs Wade the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course of our own lives.”

Vermont Right to Life Executive Director Mary Hahn Beerworth disagrees, saying the high court is correct in deciding that abortion laws should be decided by the states.

“For decades now Constitutional experts on both sides of the abortion debate have said that it was wrongly decided, created a right to an abortion that did not exist in the Constitution, and was so poorly crafted and poorly written that it needed to be overturned. So that has happened. Roe vs. Wade, Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, all gone. It returns to the states the authority to set abortion policies.”

This fall, Vermonters will vote on an amendment that would embed “personal reproductive autonomy” in the state constitution. Leriche contends Vermont needs to assure the right is permanent.

“There is a law in Vermont state statute that does protect reproductive rights and it does establish reproductive rights as a fundamental right. However legislatures slip every two years and we could get a legislature and a bunch of politicians who want to get rid of that law and repeal it. And that is why the Reproductive Liberty Amendment and amending the constitution is so important. By doing this it’s a durable protection by being more predictable long term.”

Beerworth expects the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision will be used as an opportunity to stir up support for the state constitutional amendment

“You know they’re going to use it as an opportunity to crank up hysteria about needing a constitutional amendment. It’s already decided by statute that Vermont has unrestricted, unlimited abortion through all nine months of pregnancy by law.”

For his part, Justice Clarence Thomas referred to the right to obtain contraceptives, the right to engage in private consensual sexual acts and the right to same-sex marriage, writing “we have a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents.”

Leriche says abortion is just the beginning of an erosion of rights.

“We can see the Supreme Court has other populations, other groups, in their crosshairs and this is just the beginning of what I predict will be many violations of human rights.”

Rallies were planned across the state in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. In a blistering response to the ruling Friday, President Biden urged protestors to remain peaceful.

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