From the Publisher: Woe Is 'Roe' | From the Publisher | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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From the Publisher: Woe Is 'Roe'

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Published June 29, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated July 27, 2022 at 9:04 a.m.


Vandalism at the Vermont Statehouse over the weekend - COURTESY OF VERMONT CAPITOL POLICE
  • Courtesy Of Vermont Capitol Police
  • Vandalism at the Vermont Statehouse over the weekend

Last Thursday was the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that, among other things, guarantees women equal opportunities in sports. The U.S. Supreme Court waited until the next day to steal the ball from the girls' team and kick it out of the stadium. By overturning Roe v. Wade, it snuffed out another nearly 50-year freedom that advanced the progress of women, arguably more so than Title IX: the right to end a pregnancy. That was an established constitutional guarantee, so-called "settled law," until last Friday.

I know countless Vermont women who have had at least one abortion, the result of failed birth control, medical complications, flawed timing or technique, or sexual encounters in which no one brought up the subject of contraception. Men often assume that if a woman doesn't say anything, she must be on the pill.

My life, and those of so many of my male and female friends, would look very different if we had been forced to bear children without being ready for the responsibility. This column, and this newspaper, might not even exist. Parenthood should be a choice — not a sentence. Some will rise to the occasion, but there's no doubt this ruling will diminish the lives of adults and children of all genders throughout the U.S. I hope people who live in states that outlaw abortion recognize that and take to the streets in protest.

Vermonters who agree with me, meanwhile, should be thanking their legislators — not threatening them and defacing the Statehouse, as happened over the weekend in Montpelier. Someone broke seven windows in the building on early Saturday morning and spray-painted "If abortions arent safe youre not either" on the granite steps of the historic front portico.

Vandalism at the Vermont Statehouse over the weekend - COURTESY OF VERMONT CAPITOL POLICE
  • Courtesy Of Vermont Capitol Police
  • Vandalism at the Vermont Statehouse over the weekend

Poor punctuation aside, is this how we express outrage now, post-insurrection? Like the right-wing rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, the perpetrator of this stupid but nonetheless chilling prank was woefully misinformed. He/she/they are wishing harm on the people who passed the most expansive reproductive rights in America.

In 2019, the legislators who worked in the Vermont Statehouse had the foresight to pass a law protecting abortion here in case Roe v. Wade was overturned. And they didn't stop there: Lawmakers initiated the long, painstaking process of amending the state constitution so that it guarantees reproductive freedom to all Vermonters. In November, every resident in the state can vote on whether to ratify the constitutional change.

The timing of the process, hatched four years ago, proved to be impeccable.

Even if the amendment fails, Vermont's law protecting abortion will still stand. The only thing that could override it would be a federal ban on the procedure.

To keep that from happening, citizens need to be informed and willing to take appropriate, nonviolent action, which starts with learning about the people who are standing for election to represent us; Seven Days' Primary Voters' Guide inside this week's issue aims to help with that.

Next: Weigh in at the polls and raise your voice to the people who need to hear it, knowing it might require boarding a bus to Washington.

Last week's Supreme Court news confirmed one thing: We can't take our rights for granted.