Rally in Montpelier joins national Planned Parenthood’s ‘Day of Action’

By Melissa Cooney, WCAX

Saturday was Planned Parenthood’s “Day of Action” and millions of Americans participated in “Bans off our Bodies” rallies across the country. Thousands of Vermonters gathered in front of their State House Saturday calling for abortion rights in the state to be added to Vermont’s Constitution.

“Healthcare should not be a political decision,” said Nancy Hewitt of East Randolph.

“It is women who have the right to control their bodies, not politicians,” said Senator Bernie Sanders during the rally.

Advocates at the rally say– intersectionality plays a large role in the potential consequences of Roe vs Wade being overturned across the country.

“Non-binary and trans folk like me, people of color and people with disabilities, we are in need of sexual health and reproductive liberty,” said Kell Arbor of the Pride Center of Vermont.

“They’re still gonna happen and they’re only going to be accessible for the upper white class – they’re not going to be safe for minorities and people of of color and queer folks and transgender folks,” said rally attendee Salika Sadek.

Planned Parenthood said in Vermont 5 percent of their 2021 visits were to seek abortion care. And the Vermont Department of Health says there were 1195 abortions in 2019.

Some Vermonters say they were saddened by the contents of the leaked Supreme Court Draft.

“I was emotionally devastated but not surprised,” said Rose Lee of Orange.

The potential for Roe vs Wade to be overturned and return power to the states is something advocates in the Vermont legislature have been preparing for.

“It’s a wakeup call for us. I think it makes it even more critical. I began working on the Reproductive Liberty Amendment in 2018 because at that point it looked the the courts were getting stacked,” said Lucy Leriche of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Leriche says the Reproductive Liberty Amendment on the ballot in November would solidify Vermonters rights to reproductive autonomy in the Vermont Constitution. If it makes the vote, Leriche says Vermont would be the first to do so in the country.

But adding the Reproductive Liberty Amendment is not a welcome prospect to some groups in Vermont, like the Vermont Right to Life Committee.

Sharon Toborg of Vermont Right to Life Committee says the group finds the wording of the amendment vague and has concerns about what it could lead to.

“The fact that they wouldn’t put abortion wording in there specifically makes you wonder what other things will be included in this proposal,” said Toborg. “Should it pass we are going to continue our work to provide woman better choices than abortion and alternatives.”

The Reproductive Liberty Amendment will be on the ballot for Vermonters to vote on in November. And the Supreme Court’s final decision on Roe vs Wade will be revealed next month.