Harry Chen: Keep reproductive health care private

This commentary was written by Dr. Harry Chen, former Vermont health commissioner and emergency physician. He is the treasurer of the Vermont for Reproductive Liberty Ballot Committee.

As Election Day approaches, it is important that all Vermonters exercise their right to vote. Vote for your favorite candidates and make sure to vote yes on the abortion amendment known as Article 22 or Proposition 5. Article 22, also known as the Reproductive Liberty Amendment, is an amendment to the Vermont Constitution that will grant reproductive autonomy anchoring for generations of Vermonters to come. If passed by you, the voters, it would protect each person’s right to make their own reproductive decisions, such as whether and when to become pregnant, use birth control, or seek abortion care.

Vermont already has access to reproductive health care, including abortion. As an emergency physician and former state health commissioner, I know that access to reproductive health care is essential to public health and, more importantly, these personal and private decisions rest firmly with Vermonters in consultation with their healthcare providers. That’s the point; we don’t want politicians and government standing between people and their private health care decisions, as we see in much of the country.

Reproductive health care is chaotic in many states as doctors consider the legal ramifications of their usual care. It’s the last thing we want to think about when lives are on the line. Article 22 prevents future legislators from interfering with reproductive health care.

There is nothing shameful or radical about Article 22, as some would have you believe. It was passed by two separate legislatures and has the backing of the main party candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. They all rely on Vermonters to make the right choice when it comes to their own reproductive health. What is radical is the idea that politicians could make these important health care decisions for us!

If Section 22 passes, Vermonters will continue to have access to private, common-sense reproductive health care. It only reinforces the status quo. The same safeguards we have today to ensure safe, effective and private reproductive health care will be there tomorrow.

There are no “abortions to birth” today and tomorrow. Abortions later in pregnancy will remain very rare and mainly based on serious health risks to the mother or foetus.

Your vote for Article 22 will send a clear message that Vermont will protect reproductive rights and the ability to make their own decisions about issues that affect their lives and their health. Passing Section 22 makes a clear statement that Vermont trusts its citizens and their healthcare providers to make medical decisions without government intervention. Vote YES today if you vote early or on Election Day, November 8.

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Tags: abortion, abortion amendment, Article 22, Harry Chen, prop 5, Prop 5/Article 22, Proposal 5, Proposal 5/Article 22

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