The U.S. state legislatures are poised to take action on abortion rights

MONTPELIER (VT) -- The Vermont House of Representatives will begin deliberations on an amendment to the state constitution that would enshrine abortion rights in Vermont. They will then send the question to the voters in the fall.

The U.S. state legislatures are poised to take action on abortion rights

It's not a coincidence that Vermont legislators will be considering the Reproductive Freedom Amendment, while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that could significantly erode a right that has been in place for over 50 years.

It's not only Vermont that has abortion on the legislative agenda due to the pending decision in that matter, which is expected to be made in mid-2022. The possibility of seismic changes to 1973 Roe v. Wade's ruling that legalized abortion across the U.S. will prompt state legislatures to respond. While Republican-led legislatures are prepared to ban or further restrict abortions, Democratic-led ones seek to guarantee access to abortion under their state laws.

The potential loss of Roe was what motivated supporters of the Vermont amendment. They began the 2019 process to enshrine "reproductive autonomy" in the constitution.

Ann Pugh, a Democratic state representative, said that "in my mind, there should not be any question where Vermont stands in regard to its core value and fundamental rights." She chairs the committee, which will hold hearings about the proposal as soon as January. "And these rights, responsibilities, and values must be enshrined into our state constitution in order to be more definitively protected.

Kansas is considering a completely different approach. Kansas lawmakers, Republican state legislators, have proposed a constitutional amendment to the state's August 2022 primaries that would reverse a 2019 decision of the state Supreme Court. This ruling made abortion access a "fundamental" right and a part of a woman’s inherent right to bodily autonomy.

The amendment would state that the state constitution does not allow for abortion, and that the Legislature has the power to regulate it as lawmakers see fit. This means that if Roe V. Wade is overturned Kansas lawmakers could ban abortion entirely.

California lawmakers will soon consider making the state a "sanctuary for women seeking reproductive care" in the next year. This could include funding travel, lodging, and procedures for those from other states in which abortion is prohibited or restricted.

Mary Hahn Beerworth of the Vermont Right to Life Committee said that abortion has been contentious since its inception. She is opposed to Vermont's abortion rights amendment. "Abortion rises to the top in every state legislature across America, in every election." It is one of the most important issues of our times."

According to the Guttmacher Institute (a think tank for reproductive rights), at least 20 states have already passed laws that would ban or severely restrict abortion, most notably in the South and Midwest.

At least half a dozen Republican legislators in several states indicated earlier this year that they would introduce legislation inspired by a Texas law banning abortion approximately six weeks after conception. This law was written to bypass the federal courts and leave enforcement to the individual rather than to the state. They believe it will allow them to implement the same kind of abortion crackdown that they have been seeking for years.

Mississippi Republican state senator Chris McDaniel stated earlier this year that he would "absolutely” consider filing legislation to mirror Texas' Texas law. This was after a divided U.S Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to stand, at least temporarily.

He said that most South conservative states will view the inaction of the court as a sign that they are open to the possibility of moving on the issue.

Elizabeth Nash, a Guttmacher Institute state policy analyst, stated that more than 12 states and the District of Columbia have statutory protections for abortion rights. Massachusetts is one of these states. The Democrats, who control the legislature, approved a bill earlier this year over the Republican governor's veto. Charlie Baker codified abortion rights in state law.

A pro-choice group in California, however, suggested 45 steps to be taken to further protect the rights of Californians who have already adopted many measures to ensure access to abortion.

Nash stated that there is still much to do to ensure access to abortion rights and access.

Not only are efforts to restrict access being made from the more conservative areas of the country, but also from other historically conservative regions. Governor of New Hampshire's state budget. The June state budget signed by Chris Sununu (a Republican), includes a provision that prohibits abortion after 24 weeks gestation. There are exceptions for the mother’s life and physical health. It goes into effect January 1, just before the commencement of the new legislative session.

New Hampshire's Republican legislators are currently drafting several abortion-related laws, one of which would ban the procedure following the detection and monitoring of fetal heartbeats. Another would permit the biological father of an unborn baby to obtain a court order banning a woman's right to have an abortion. The prohibition against staying on a sidewalk next to an abortion clinic would be repealed by a third.

Nash stated that only a few states have made their state constitutions protect abortion rights. But Vermont Democrats want to be sure.

The proposed amendment doesn't contain the word abortion. Proponents claim that it does not. They also say that it would guarantee other reproductive rights, such as access to birth control and the right to get pregnant.

Lucy Leriche, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, stated that "there's a lot of backing for this in the legislature." "I believe the reason seems quite clear to me right now. This right to reproductive liberty has been available for nearly 50 years. People don't want us to go backwards.

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