This letter is from Milton resident Martin Lundberg.
We are all looking forward to Vermont's reopening and returning to a state of normalcy after a difficult and turbulent year. I think most Vermonters would agree that the governor has exercised a consistent, measured response to the Covid-19 pandemic while avoiding the hysteria and grandstanding seen elsewhere.
He has often repeated two guiding principles, “Follow the Science” and “Protect the Most Vulnerable." By most measures Vermont has done well in fighting the pandemic and is often said to be first in the nation.
At a recent Covid briefing/press conference (May 18th), the governor made this observation: "Most everyone believes in the science until it conflicts with their fears, their ideology or their politics and then they don't believe in the science." Unfortunately this observation applies to more issues than just the Coronavirus pandemic.
I'm concerned that Vermont is on track to be a national leader on another issue that I find very troubling. While other states have sought to codify abortion rights into legislation, Vermont is on the verge of adopting an amendment to the state's constitution (Proposal 5, Article 22 Personal Reproductive Liberty) that guarantees the "right" to an abortion during the entire 9 months of pregnancy.
If this amendment is passed, a woman could choose to terminate the life of her child in utero for any reason, at any time, up to the very moment of birth. For any reason – whether it be embarrassment, inconvenience, financial stress, sex selection or disability, even a minor without parental consent or notification.
But are we "Following the Science?" A brief internet search of "fetal development” will indicate otherwise. The science tells us that from the very moment of conception a new and unique individual is created with a genetic fingerprint unique to anyone on the entire planet. Just a few weeks after conception, that unique genetic fingerprint is orchestrating the development of the brain, spinal cord, the heart and other vital organs.
A heartbeat can be detected as early as 6 weeks. At 12 weeks fingernails are formed, face is more developed, intestines are in the abdomen even though the baby in only about 2 1/2 inches long. By 20 weeks the baby's sexual organs are developing and the baby can move and hear.
This incredible development continues with amazing rapidity. The heart is pumping blood, the child can recognize the mother's voice, feel pain, sleep and dream. With the amazing advancements of our modern medical technology, premature babies born as early as 26 weeks have an opportunity to survive outside the womb. A recent news story reported a mother giving birth at 29 weeks in the middle of a Delta flight to Honolulu.
Will Vermont "follow the science?" Will Vermont "protect the most vulnerable?" Can the termination of a fully developed, viable child one moment before birth be "reproductive freedom", when the termination of that same life a moment after birth is a crime of murder? Do we want Vermont to be that kind of a leader?
Once Proposal 5 becomes part of the Vermont Constitution, any changes or restrictions would require a four-year process, with multiple votes by the Senate and House and a statewide referendum. It would be wise to take the advice many a parent has given to an adolescent on the verge of crazy TikTok challenge, “Stop! Think! Don't do anything stupid!”
I have a better idea. Vermont should be first in the nation in providing support, emotional, educational, financial and medical support for mothers who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy, who feel helpless and hopeless, with nowhere to turn. Vermonters could be proud of that leadership, and it would demonstrate our commitment to follow the science and protect the most vulnerable. We should also note that Vermont's aging population and declining school enrollments would reap the long term benefits of more Vermont children.
To quote our friend Horton the elephant, “A person's a person no mater how small."