Last week’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was a gut punch to reproductive rights and access to vital health care for millions of Americans. The Court did as expected, caved to the radical religious right, permanently sullied the legitimacy of the Court, and underscored that in their opinion the rights of women are easily denied. It is a sad and frightening time for our country and millions of Americans who have been immediately be impacted by this brutal decision.
To be clear, Vermonters continue to have access to abortion services and reproductive health care. In 2019, we passed the Freedom of Choice Act which codified in Vermont law access to reproductive health care, including abortion services. That year, the Vermont Senate also started the long process of amending the state’s constitution. As a result, this November Vermonters will vote on Article 22 of the Vermont Constitution, guaranteeing the right to personal reproductive autonomy. With the passage of Article 22, Vermont could become the first state to enshrine the right to personal reproductive autonomy in its state constitution. These protections are due to the hard work of state legislators during my four years in the Senate.
Closer to home, I know many people are concerned about the recent closure of the Middlebury Planned Parenthood (PPNNE) health center. To be clear, people can still access comprehensive reproductive health care services in Addison County, including abortion care at Porter Medical Center. In addition, as soon as the PPNNE closure was announced, I gathered a group of local health care providers to plan how our community can fill the void of this closure. Since then, health care leaders from Porter Medical Center, Mountain Health Center, Open Door Clinic, Addison County Parent Child Center, and Middlebury College Health Services Center have been meeting regularly to discuss needs and coordinate patient care, public outreach, training, and medical supply issues to ensure that people previously served by PPNNE in Middlebury will be able to continue to access comprehensive sexual health care. Patients can still access Planned Parenthood at other locations or via telehealth, or can receive similar services through other providers in our community.
I have been fighting for reproductive rights my entire life. This past weekend I was a guest on Inside Story, an international news program, debating “What’s behind the US Supreme Court decision on abortion?” I will continue fight for the protection of the reproductive rights of Vermonters and Americans and am already working with colleagues to write legislation to ensure the safety of health care providers and people coming to Vermont to access abortion care.
If you’d like to do something, here are a few suggestions:
- Protest, march, rally, speak up!
- Join efforts to ensure the the passage of Article 22
- Vote Yes on the Reproductive Liberty Amendment
- Make a contribution to an Abortion Fund
- Check out abortion access maps based on Middlebury College Professor Caitlin Myers’s research
- Support Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
- Take care of yourself and maintain hope
As a mother of three teens/young adults, I know the stakes are high. We should be angry and we should take the time we need to mourn this devastating loss. And we must continue to do the important work of organizing, protesting, voting, legislating, and speaking up for the rights of all Americans to access vital reproductive health care.
We will not give up.