Home News and Features Vermonters Respond to Roe v. Wade Decision

Vermonters Respond to Roe v. Wade Decision

Vermonters speak out against the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade over a week ago. Here, protesters join the parade at Montpelier’s July 3 Independence Day event. Photo by John Lazenby.
Just over a week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion, local organizations and activists have been busy campaigning for an amendment to the Vermont Constitution designed to preserve personal reproductive freedom for Vermont citizens.

The Reproductive Liberty Amendment, which goes before Vermont voters this November, has become a rallying point for several Vermont organizations.

In the wake of the decision — and reports of incidents such as a 10-year-old rape victim being denied an abortion in Ohio — the League of Women Voters of Vermont has been campaigning for the amendment and supporting national outreach efforts to get out the vote in advance of mid-term elections.

“Our ability to make decisions for our lives and health has everything to do with who’s in office, so we need to register voters, inform and educate voters, and then we need to get out the vote, and that’s what the league does especially well,” said Graniteville resident Dottye Ricks, a 35-year member of the League of Women Voters. Ricks is also the league representative to the coalition campaigning for the passage of the Reproductive Liberty Amendment.

”The RLA would amend Vermont’s Constitution to protect every person’s right to make their own reproductive decisions, like whether and when to become pregnant, use temporary or permanent birth control, or seek abortion care. We support this coalition through organizing and joining protests, rallies, media output, and other events in support of the RLA. We support funding this action group and encourage others to do so as well,” Ricks said.

The league is one of four organizations that make up the Vermont for Reproductive Liberty Campaign, a coalition led by Planned Parenthood Vermont that includes the Alliance for a Better Vermont and the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont.

Protesters turned out in front of the Vermont Supreme Court building in Montpelier on June 24, the day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade. A second protest was held on July 3, at the same location, during Montpelier’s Independence Day celebration. Photo by Terry Allen. 
A person who helped organize a July 3 protest during Montpelier’s Independence Day event (“an ironic holiday,” they said), spoke on condition of anonymity, about “the importance of Vermont instilling an abortion safe haven initiative which offers safe harbor, privacy, and legal representation to those seeking abortions and reproductive care from states where it has become illegal and/or inaccessible, with a clause which guarantees protection of, and prohibits extradition of, Vermonters who may be charged for providing aid and services to people finding reproductive sanctuary in Vermont…”

League member Johanna Nichols has been staffing a Planned Parenthood table at the Capital City Farmers Market lately, answering questions from people who want to know how to respond to the recent Supreme Court decision.

“Pay attention to what companies are saying,” she said last Saturday, during a sunny afternoon at the market. “If they’re going to support an employee who needs access to health care, let them know when you buy something from them [that you appreciate it].”

“If you are grieving or feeling fearful, talk to people,” Nichols said. “We’re listening to each other because we have to grieve this. Then we have to get active and fight it.”

The League of Women Voters of Vermont in Montpelier’s Independence Day parade on July 3. Photo by John Lazenby.
“We are supporting people in a variety of ways since this news,” said Anne Ward, executive director of Mosaic Vermont, Washington County’s sexual violence prevention organization in Barre.

“Mosaic suggests that people who want to help look for the established helpers in the most impacted communities,” Ward said. “It’s easiest to care and donate when we have a name and a face to attach our contributions to, but this is one of those times when we need to trust the people and agencies in those communities to know what their people need and to put contributions to the best use.”

About the Amendment

The Reproductive Liberty Amendment goes before voters in November, after having passed through the Vermont House and Senate twice. If passed, it amends the Vermont Constitution with the following language: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”