Vermont becomes first state to pass constitutional protections for safe, legal abortion
Colchester, VT – Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America celebrate a major milestone toward the enactment of Prop 5, the constitutional amendment which would guarantee Vermonters the right to personal reproductive liberty. If approved, Vermont would become the first state in the country to explicitly protect reproductive freedom in its constitution. This proactive policy work is part of a counter movement rising up from state advocates in response to the Trump agenda and Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, which puts abortion access on the line. New York's Reproductive Health Act, passed earlier this year, marked the beginning of a sea change, in which nearly half of states introduced policies that protect and expand access to safe, legal abortion.
Statement from Meagan Gallagher, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:
Vermont lawmakers made history today by declaring that reproductive rights are human rights. We applaud Vermont’s legislature for making its position clear on reproductive freedom, that protecting the health, dignity, and civil rights of Vermonters is urgently important. Vermont has established itself as the shining example for all other states by acknowledging that every person is capable of – and must be trusted to – make their own health care decisions without government interference.
Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Today, Planned Parenthood celebrates the hard work of advocates in Vermont for working to enshrine reproductive liberty in the state’s constitution. This is history in the making. With Trump in the White House and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, it is more important than ever for states to enact proactive policies to create a critical backstop and protect access to safe, legal abortion care. We at Planned Parenthood commend reproductive health care champions for their leadership and their work to protect the lives and well-being of women and families in Vermont. When states can act to protect basic health care, they should, and Vermont is an example of the critical role state leaders can play in the work to preserve our patients’ rights and freedoms.
The U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade as soon as this year, and the ability to access safe, legal abortion would be determined by the states. Women’s rights are at risk, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned, one in three women of reproductive age could live in a state where the right to abortion is not only overturned, but criminalized. Prop 5 would amend the Vermont Constitution to uphold the will of Vermonters – that an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course.
The process to pass a Vermont constitutional amendment has multiple provisions to ensure it reflects the will of the people. The amendment must pass both the Senate and the House chambers in two consecutive legislative bienniums before being placed on the ballot for Vermont voters on Election Day in November 2022. Planned Parenthood looks forward to working with its partners to see this constitutional amendment through the entire process so that every person has the right to access safe, legal abortion when and where they need it.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
About Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE): PPNNE is the largest reproductive and sexual health care provider in northern New England. In 2018, PPNNE served more than 45,000 patients, and provided more than $8 million worth of free and discounted health care.