Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Article 22 on reproductive rights was misleading

Under Article 22 of the Vermont Constitution, Vermonters may be required to pay for medical procedures related to reproductive choice through increases in health insurance premiums. The Purpose section of Article 22, which did not appear on the ballot in 2022, purports under Chapter 1, Articles 1 and 7, that “reproductive liberty” is a common benefit and protection bestowed by government.

Fertility services bills H.369 and S.63 serve to define reproductive “common benefits” by requiring health insurance companies and Medicaid to cover fertility-related services such as, “fertility diagnostic care; intrauterine insemination treatment with donor or partner semen; at least three retrievals of oocytes under anesthesia for in vitro fertilization with a donor or partner semen or egg;” fertility-related medications; and fertility preservation services.

Both the House Committee on Health Care and the Senate Committee on Finance received testimony in early 2023 on H.369 and S.63, respectively. Both bills are expected to be passed in 2024.

According to the Billing Fertility Mandate submitted to the Senate Committee on Finance by Sebastian Arduengo, Esq., Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, premium costs would increase from between $6.69 to $17.40 Per Member Per Month (PMPM – see chart on page 16) depending upon three scenarios ranging from unlimited to limited coverage outlined on page three of the Executive Summary.

On top of inflation, the “Affordable” Heat Act, double-digit health insurance premium increases in 2023, and a potential 18.5% increase in property taxes across Vermont in 2024, H.369 and S.63 fertility services bills are an additional threat to the economic security and prosperity of Vermont families, seniors, and individuals.

Vermonters were told Article 22 was needed to protect women’s access to abortion in Vermont. This is untrue in at least three ways: 1) the Supreme Court of Vermont, Chittenden, determined the legislature cannot prohibit the safe exercise of abortion in Beecham V Leahy and Jeffords in 1972, a year before Roe V. Wade was decided; 2) there were no legal restrictions on abortion in Vermont prior to the passage of Act 47 in 2019, which expressly prohibits a public entity (government) from interfering in reproductive choice; 3) Article 22 would not prevent any future federal laws affecting abortion nationwide, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, legislators failed to educate the public on their plans to introduce and pass legislation that requires financing the constitutional right to reproductive liberty, and the potential costs to Vermonters for funding this government-given “right.”

Renee McGuinness

Addison County GOP Committee Woman

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