Vermont Senate to vote on abortion-rights amendment

Vermont News

Vermont senators sit spaced apart to meet the social distance requirements set by the governor, Tuesday March 24, 2020, at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt. The Senate met with 17 members, one over the required quorum, to pass legislation needed to confront the coronavirus pandemic. (Paul Heintz/Seven Days via AP, Pool)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Senate plans to vote next week on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee a woman’s right to an abortion.

The chamber is also scheduled to vote on April 9 on a proposed amendment to explicitly ban slavery in the state. Both proposed amendments were first passed by the state Senate two years ago and later passed by the House. If approved by the Senate next week and later the House, the proposals will go before voters in November 2022.

Two years ago the Legislature also passed a law guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion. Proponents said the law and the proposed amendment were needed because Vermont had no underlying law guaranteeing access to an abortion.

The state constitution currently says no person 21 or older should serve as a slave unless bound by their own consent or “by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.” The amendment would remove that language and add that slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.

To amend the Vermont Constitution, the proposals must be approved by two consecutively elected Legislatures and then approved in a statewide referendum.

The last time the Vermont Constitution was amended was in 2010, when 17-year-old Vermonters were allowed to vote in primary election if they would turn 18 before the general election.

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