Reaction of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) to the Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, June 24, 2022
[Patrick Leahy is the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, and a former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is the current Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.]
Today’s opinion from a narrow majority of the Court is not the end of abortion. It is the end of a woman’s right to safe reproductive health care. It is the end of women’s choice. It sets us back. It does not move us forward.
What message does this send to women? That their choice — that their right to govern their bodies — doesn’t matter? That politicians know better?
State legislatures cannot write their way through the myriad of circumstances that can arise for women in pregnancy. These states, though, say today that they know best. The Court, today, says that those state legislatures know best. No, not the 163 million women in this country. Not a woman about her own body. Government knows best.
For years I have heard Republicans in the Senate talk about limited government, about their worries that government interferes too much with our daily lives. Today, I ask them, is there any more significant interference than that of getting between a woman, or any person, and their health care choices? This is hypocrisy of the highest order.
Americans come to court to find justice. To find protection under the law. Today, the Supreme Court abandons that role. I fear for what it means for the progress we have fought hard to achieve. For our more perfect union. For generations to come.
Sanders Calls for End of Filibuster to Codify Right to Abortion
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) on Friday issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court announced a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization:
“Six Supreme Court justices, including some who in their nomination hearings called the case ‘important precedent,’ today did exactly what the American people did not want and overturned Roe v. Wade. In the year 2022 they have made the outrageous and reactionary assertion that women in our country should not be able to control their own bodies. This decision cannot be allowed to stand. If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe. That is exactly what we must do NOW.”
Statement from Governor Phil Scott on Supreme Court Ruling
Governor Phil Scott today issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization:
“I know many Vermonters like me are deeply disappointed following today’s decision by the Supreme Court, as this decision rolls back a federal right that women have had for decades. It’s Important to note, a woman’s right to choose is a principle we will uphold in Vermont, and we, in fact, have prepared for this unfortunate outcome.
“In 2019, I signed a law that affirmed the fundamental rights of all women and ensured reproductive health decisions remain between a woman and her health care provider. That does not change with this ruling.
“Additionally, in November, Vermonters will be able to further solidify this action with a constitutional amendment on the ballot. As I have said, I will be voting for that amendment, and I encourage Vermonters to stand up for the rights of women and do the same.
“To that end, In the coming days, I will formally provide public notice to Vermonters, as required by the Vermont Constitution and state statute, that Proposal 5, a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution passed by the General Assembly, will appear on the November general election ballot.
“Further, I call on Congress to immediately work to codify the right to choose for all Americans as we have done for Vermonters.”
Statement of Lt. Governor Molly Gray on the Supreme Court Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
This morning, Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray issued the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization:
“Today will go down as a tragic day in the fight for human rights and women’s rights. Never in my lifetime has an established fundamental right been stripped away. SCOTUS has failed spectacularly in its duty to protect and uphold the constitutional precedent.
Every Vermonter and American is owed the right to reproductive liberty, and here in Vermont, we will do everything in our power to protect it.
I encourage Vermonters to channel their outrage and take action by passing Proposal 5 this fall to enshrine reproductive liberty in our Vermont Constitution. At the federal level, we must codify Roe. With that precedent now officially upended, this must happen now.
Vermonters will always step forward when our country steers off course. It’s time, again, for us to be a north star for the nation, to stand together and lead the way toward a safer and more just future for all.”
House Speaker Jill Krowinski issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade
“This is a truly sad day in our nation's history. The Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade is setting reproductive rights back 50 years, a decision that is unacceptable and unconscionable. I believe access to abortion services should be legal and accessible, and should be a decision made between an individual and their health care provider. I am proud of the work we’ve done in the legislature to ensure reproductive rights will remain safe and available in this new post-Roe world for Vermonters. Currently in Vermont reproductive rights are protected under Freedom of Choice Act, which guarantees access to contraceptive and abortion services, but we know we need to go a step further. On the ballot in November is the reproductive liberty constitutional amendment and we must pass it to enshrine reproductive rights in our state constitution - becoming the first state in the nation to constitutionally solidify these rights.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger Statement on Supreme Court Ruling to Overturn Roe v. Wade
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court creates a country where rights are determined by which state you live in. This ruling sets our country back two generations in the fight for women’s rights and equality.
“In Vermont, a person’s right to choose is secure, and the City will continue its record of doing everything possible to defend reproductive access. In 2019, the State Legislature overwhelmingly passed the Freedom of Choice Act, which establishes the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization, and the right to carry a pregnancy to term, give birth to a child, or have an abortion.
“It is important to point out, that this is not the only Supreme Court ruling in recent days that is completely out of touch with the priorities of Americans. Yesterday, the Supreme Court overturned a century-old New York State law which required people to have a license to carry a concealed gun. This outrageous ruling comes at the same moment when we finally broke a logjam in the U.S. Senate to pass once-in-a-generation gun reform.
“The U.S. Supreme Court is quickly losing credibility in the eyes of many Americans. Our democracy depends on our ability to restore legitimacy to this essential branch of our government. The current system for appointing judges, who serve life terms, is unique in the world and has created a situation where minority views are being imposed on the whole country. Increasingly, it is clear, we must reform the way the U.S. Supreme Court is constituted to rebuild and restore its own legitimacy.”
Statement from Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale on SCOTUS Ruling, 4 pm Rally in BTV
Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden), the only woman of color to serve in the State Senate, today issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization:
“I accessed abortion care when I was a college student, and it was one of the most important decisions I made in my life. It was also the right one. Access to abortion will be protected in Vermont, and that protection will be enshrined in the Constitution by Vermont voters on November 8 with the passage of Prop 5.
"There is, however, more we can and must do to support people seeking abortion care and abortion providers around the country when we return to Montpelier in January. We must strengthen access to telemedicine and medicated abortion, and protect the doctors and health care workers providing remote abortion care.
"We need strong partners in Washington like Peter Welch and Becca Balint, and we also cannot wait for Congress to act. It is up to each of us to do what we can. Please join your local elected officials for a rally at 4 pm in City Hall Park in Burlington with a march up Church Street to join the Planned Parenthood Action Fund rally at 5 pm at the UU Church. Speakers in City Hall Park will include Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski, Representative Taylor Small, and Councilor Zoraya Hightower."
Statement From Attorney General’s Office Reaffirming Commitment to Protect Access to Abortion Care
In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Acting Attorney General Joshua Diamond today issued the following statement reaffirming the Office’s commitment to supporting and expanding access to abortion care:
“Despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs, access to safe and legal abortion remains protected in Vermont and many states across the country. Abortion care is health care. The Attorney General’s Office will stand with Vermonters in doing everything it can to protect reproductive freedom. The Office will explore every opportunity to join multistate actions, amicus briefs, and lawsuits while also supporting the passage of Vermont’s Reproductive Liberty Amendment, Article 22.”
Statement from Lucy Leriche, Vice President of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund
“By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives. This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant. In Vermont, you can still access an abortion today.
“Vermont is taking a bold step to protect reproductive rights here at home, where we are working to pass the Reproductive Liberty Amendment in November. The Reproductive Liberty Amendment would amend Vermont’s constitution to protect every person's right to make their own reproductive decisions, like whether and when to become pregnant, use temporary or permanent birth control, or seek abortion care without interference from politicians. If passed, it will protect these rights long-term.
“It is a dark day for our country, but this is far from over. We will not compromise on our bodies, our dignity, or our freedom. Vermonters should know that Planned Parenthood will always fight for you, and we will not back down. Together, we will protect our freedoms.”
The court’s decision goes against the will of the American people, 80% of whom support legal abortion. The majority of Vermonters also support abortion rights.
Even with today’s devastating decision, abortion is still legal in many parts of the country. People who need care should go to ppnne.org or call PPNNE at 1-866-476-1321 to book an appointment.
Rallies across the state tonight in Vermont:
Join us this evening at the following locations to rally in support of abortion rights and Vermont’s Reproductive Liberty Amendment:
Bennington: Four Corners from 5:00pm-6:00pm
Brattleboro: Plaza Park at 4:00-6:00pm
Burlington: The Unitarian Universalist Church at the intersection of Church Street and Pearl Street at 5:00pm
Montpelier: In front of the Federal Building, 87 State Street at 5:00pm
Rutland: Sidewalk at Main Street Park, 6:00pm-7:00pm
Vermont Right to Life Committee: Unrestricted Abortion Throughout all Nine Months of Pregnancy Remains Legal in Vermont, Despite Today’s Supreme Court Ruling
Today the US Supreme Court handed down their decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In a 6-3 decision, the 1973 Roe v Wade decision has been overturned and, “the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
The case under consideration, Thomas E. Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, involved a Mississippi law banning all abortions over 15 weeks gestational age except in medical emergencies and in the case of severe fetal abnormality.
Constitutional experts on both sides of the debate over abortion have long criticized the Roe decision as having created a right that did not exist and for broadly over reaching their jurisdiction. Those errors have been corrected today.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade has no effect on abortion in Vermont. In Vermont, abortion has been legal since the 1972 Vermont Supreme Court case in Beecham v. Leahy. In 2019, Act 47 created a statute that further protects unlimited, unregulated abortion through all nine months of pregnancy irrespective of the US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs.
“Extremist proponents of abortion rights in Vermont will use the Supreme Court decision to attempt to rally support for passage of Proposal 5/Article 22," stated Mary Hahn Beerworth, Executive Director of Vermont Right to Life. "Proponents must not be allowed to mislead Vermonters into believing that ‘Article 22 is needed,’ or that the amendment simply ‘codifies Roe v. Wade,’ when in fact the amendment far exceeds the holding in Roe."
ACLU of Vermont Statement on Supreme Court Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court issued a ruling today overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years ago. The ruling in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, will set off a chain reaction with states banning abortion and criminalizing essential care throughout entire regions of the country.
The following statement was issued by ACLU of Vermont executive director James Lyall in response to the decision:
“The Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Dobbs now takes its place alongside some of the most disgraceful and notorious court decisions in our nation’s history. By abandoning five decades of legal precedent to repeal a cherished and fundamental right, the Supreme Court has betrayed the American people.
“Clearly, state-level protections are now more vital than ever to safeguarding abortion rights. In Vermont, that starts with passing the Reproductive Liberty Amendment this November, to explicitly enshrine the right to reproductive healthcare in our state constitution.
“The right to decide if and when to become a parent is central to an individual’s dignity and well-being, and Vermonters this year will have the opportunity to protect and affirm that fundamental right for ourselves, our neighbors, and future generations.
“The road ahead is long, and the ACLU will be there every step of the way. We fought for abortion rights before they were recognized by the Supreme Court, and we are not deterred from this fight by today’s decision.”
Statement from John R. Brumsted, MD, President and CEO of The UVM Health Network, on Supreme Court Decision
“As a health care safety net provider for more than 1 million people, including critical services that our patients cannot receive elsewhere in our region, the UVM Health Network supports preserving access to the full range of reproductive health care. Our policies and our practices regarding abortion services focus on the importance of the patient-provider relationship, and the right of patients to make their own health care decisions. Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization infringes on that long-established right, and will undermine access to important health care services across the nation. We will continue to stand up for reproductive health care rights and equitable access to that care.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont Denounces Supreme Court Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont denounces the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Every person should have the right to control their own health care decisions, including the right to abortion care. The consequences of this action will block millions of women from obtaining critical health care.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont will continue to advocate for our employees and our members’ right to obtain abortion care. Blue Cross is planning to offer a Travel Rider as an option to cover expenses for members who are forced to travel in order to receive health care services. No court or legislature should have the ability to decide when someone should become a parent based on their zip code or economic status. That is a decision that should be made between an individual and their health care provider and we will protect that ability for our members.
We urge Vermonters to vote in November to support Article 22, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment, which will amend the Constitution of the State of Vermont to ensure that every Vermonter’s right to personal reproductive liberty is protected into the future.