To the Editor:
If passed again in the Senate, the citizens of Vermont will get to vote on Proposal 5 in a public referendum on Nov. 8, 2022. Proposal 5 would add language to the Vermont Constitution stating that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course.”
Here’s the fundamental problem with this proposal to amend the Vermont constitution: our Declaration of Independence has already guaranteed that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Why then, would anyone propose to create an amendment to our state constitution that guarantees rights we already have?
Could it be that the wording of this proposal is really misleading, and its sponsors intend something entirely different than how it appears on its face?
Historically, constitutional amendments are difficult undertakings meant to bolster, not alter, the foundations of liberty and justice upon which our nation was founded. These amendments have been ratified to correct injustice and to elevate the status of groups of people whose rights had been denied.
For example, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments guarantee the abolition of slavery; that no state shall deprive any person of life or equal protection of the law; and that no citizen shall be denied his or her right to vote.
Back to the problem with Proposal 5. My rights are guaranteed only insofar as they don’t infringe on the rights and liberty of others. This is simply a matter of common sense and respect for the dignity of all human life. Our laws are intended to protect all persons — regardless of their stage of development or physical characteristics — not destroy them.
And yet, the true intent of Proposal 5 is to remove this protection and enshrine personal freedom, even while denying it to others. Women’s rights, reproductive or otherwise, are not being denied; they are already guaranteed. But Proposal 5 will legalize the killing of pre-born children.
We must not allow our state to become further entrenched in this evil and the injustice of vehemently championing the rights of some, while denying the rights of others. Defeating Proposal 5 means voting to protect the right to life of the youngest and most defenseless among us.