Proposal 5’s stated purpose is to protect “personal reproductive autonomy.” The proposed Amendment, however, does not define “personal reproductive autonomy.” What “personal reproductive autonomy” means, therefore, will not be determined by the people of Vermont through their Legislature; rather, it will be defined by the Vermont Supreme Court. Reproductive rights may well change over time. Reproductive rights are not limited to abortion. They could include the following:
1. human cloning for reproductive purposes;
2. gestational surrogacy trafficking (achieved by in vitro fertilization and then followed by human embryo transfer, and after birth the handing over of a born human child in exchange for payment);
3. trafficking in human embryo creation (creation of a human embryo by IVF and the subsequent sale or trade of such human embryos for implantation in another’s womb for the purposes of reproduction);
4. designer babies (creation of designer embryos using gene editing techniques and the implantation and birthing of such genetically modified human beings);
Additionally, the word “autonomy” is not defined in the Proposal. This could raise the following issues:
Would this “autonomy” right undercut criminal prohibitions related to age of consent or sexual assault if a minor girl sought to become pregnant with the assistance of a man over the age of 18?
Would a minor girl’s rights to “personal reproductive autonomy” be “infringed” if such a man were prosecuted for sexual contact with the minor?
Testimony submitted to the Vermont House and Senate in 2019 by Norman Smith, Attorney at Law, Essex Junction, Vermont