Vermont Proposal 5: A Constitutional Amendment on Reproductive Anarchy


A pro-life activist holds up a 12 week embryo model during a protest outside the Marie Stopes Clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland on October 18, 2012. (Cathal McNaughton / Reuters)

Vermont has already established an absolute statutory right to abortion up to the ninth month and denies embryos and fetuses all rights – whether or not they are in a womb – which opens the door to their immediate use in the womb. ‘experimentation and as suppliers of organs for transplantation.

But that’s not enough, apparently. Proposition 5, passed by the Vermont Legislature in its 2019 session, would open the door to reproductive anarchy. Here is the language of the proposal (emphasis added):

Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty] That the right of an individual to personal reproductive autonomy is at the heart of the freedom and dignity to determine one’s own life course and should not be denied or violated unless justified by an overriding interest of the State obtained by the least restrictive means.

The opponents have concentrated on the indisputable point that the amendment would make abortion up to the ninth month for whatever reason a constitutional right in Vermont, which wouldn’t be a huge change because, as noted above, it is already state law.

But Proposition 5 could also open the door to reproductive anarchy. Why? An almost absolute right to “reproductive autonomy” would mean that any method and means to create and procreate children would be enshrined in the Vermont Constitution, however extreme or mechanistic it may be. From memory, this would include the following elements, which have all been proposed, are being tested or have already been achieved:

  • Manufacture of babies by SCNT cloning, either for research purposes (already done), or to have a baby that is its identical twin.
  • Make “three-parent embryos” so that all members of throuples can have a genetic relationship with the child.
  • Two uterine babies, i.e. making an embryo by IVF, implanting in a mother, then transferring the embryo to another who carries the baby to term. The idea is that both women will have carried the child in their body – a procedure already practiced by a few lesbian couples that offers no benefit to the child and could involve risks.
  • CRISPR genetic engineering of a child, already made in China.
  • Fetal Farming, that is to say a woman paid to procreate and abort for experimental purposes or for organ donation (already proposed by some bioethicists).
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnoses are not made for health, but for eugenic purposes.
  • Transgender women receiving uterus transplants so that biological men can give birth.
  • Use of an artificial uterus for the gestation of a baby, whether or not it is necessary for the health of the fetus.
  • Commercial surrogacy for any reason.
  • Use of CRISPR and induced pluripotent stem cells to create eggs and sperm from the same person, so that person could be both the mother and father of a child.

Also note that the amendment adopts the same strict / less intrusive standard of scrutiny as applied in the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act. What an irony. I think it’s safe to say that most lawmakers who voted for this amendment would oppose the same standard when it comes to the free exercise of religion. That says a lot about America’s increasingly intractable cultural divide.

In addition, if there is a positive right to reproductive autonomy, could health professionals who have refused to participate in these methods on the basis of religious or conscientious objections be prosecuted for “discrimination” or face charges? a legal or professional sanction? Such lawsuits are already underway across the country.

Rarely is anything a good idea, especially in such a morally charged area as procreation. The unintended societal consequences of these sweeping experiences in family formation and childbirth – and the prospect of using unborn life instrumental in more varied ways than we already do – cannot be known. But I think it will lead to increasing social disintegration, less family stability, more depressed / confused children, and further corrosion of our belief in inherent human dignity.

Proposal 5 must pass a second time in the current legislative session to vote on November 22. But since it passed the Vermont Senate in 2019 by 28-2 and House 106-38, it seems certain. I’m afraid the Vermont progressives will vote yes and open a Pandora’s box for procreation.

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