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Dottye Ricks: Reject the deceit, misinformation, and just plain hogwash

This commentary was originally published in VTDigger.

In this Age of Fake News and Alternative Truths, a barrage of misleading propaganda has appeared in flyers, mailers and papers concerning Prop 5/Article 22. These are attempts to sway voters against this vitally important measure. We must recognize and reject these false claims, understand how we are being played, and identify what Prop 5 really achieves.

1. Misinformation. The false rhetoric is led by the phrase ‘late-term abortions.” This phrase is used to scare people and discredit Prop 5. 

Yet rarely are late-term abortions performed in Vermont and only under limited circumstances deemed medically necessary. The vast majority of abortions are done in the first trimester, not in late-term months. Late-term procedures that do occur are governed by AMA standards and, more importantly, by ethical criteria, and are primarily performed only in emergency situations. Nothing in Prop 5 will change these sane and thoughtful parameters or increase access to late-term abortions.

This claim is designed to scare voters about what Prop 5 really achieves — reproductive autonomy. Reject these tactics and endorse Prop 5 as the guarantor of reproductive independence.

2. Deceit. Prop 5/Article 22 is attacked as too vague, implying it is somehow defective. Vermont legislators worked for over four years to craft the amendment to ensure it was inclusive of all Vermonters and their reproductive needs.

Prop 5 secures in our constitution that a person’s procreative independence is central to our lives and must not be infringed upon by the state. Under Prop 5, legally, our state would be unable to force anyone to use birth control or not to use it; to have a vasectomy or an abortion, nor could it prevent a person from doing so. 

Essentially the language of Prop 5, in its broadest sense, keeps the state’s nose out of our most private reproductive decisions, whatever they may be. Instead, it requires the state to assure all of us the dignity of making those choices — without state interference — regardless of our gender, racial or sexual identity, or economic status.

In twisting the words of Prop 5, current propaganda advances wacky examples of additional situations that the language might possibly allow, again to misdirect what Prop 5 really ensures — procreative independence. Reject these attempts to deceive you. Be insulted by such blatant scaremongering tactics. Instead, support Prop 5, a measure that will only benefit Vermonters.

3. Deceit. The opposition insists that Prop 5 is unnecessary. Yes, Vermont laws currently protect reproductive rights. But laws can more easily be overturned than can constitutional amendments. Specifically, with Article 22 in our constitution, it will be harder to enact or manipulate laws to restrict access to personal medical reproductive choices, including abortions. 

Attempts at state-level laws to restrict access can be rejected as unconstitutional. This limits the ability of anyone imposing their will on the rest of us and protects sane and ethical reproductive rights for all of Vermont’s residents.

See this argument for what it is: an attempt to deceive you into thinking you are just as protected without Prop 5 as you are with it. Disregard this argument and the deception behind it. Protect Vermonters by voting for Prop 5/Article 22.

4. Misinformation. Claims that our taxes will increase in order to pay for Prop 5 are untrue. There are no fiscal responsibilities attached to Prop 5. It simply guarantees a Vermonter’s right to make procreative medical choices. Consequently, we must refuse to be taken in by this false and misleading information about taxes. Instead, choose to amend our constitution by voting “yes” for Prop 5.

5. Hogwash. Perhaps the most ludicrous claim in the propaganda is that Article 22 will force MDs to perform late-term abortions and perpetrate unethical practices on children. This just shows the warped imagination producing these claims, the lengths that propagandists will go to feed hogwash to Vermonters, and how uninformed and gullible some people believe the Vermont electorate to be.

Prop 5 forces no one to do anything. It protects, by solidifying in the constitution, laws that confirm the right to procreative independence and by preventing the state from interjecting itself into the very personal propagative choices of its citizenry.  

It is absolutely vital that we, as intelligent and informed Vermont residents, understand this outrageous and dangerous propaganda for what it is: hogwash! Let us all be repulsed at the absurdity of it and unequivocally vote “yes” for Prop 5.

Prop 5: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” 

Thank goodness Vermonters can read! Be contemplative, be informed, be knowledgeable. Reject misinformation, deceit and hogwash. See Prop 5 for what it really does: It ensures reproductive autonomy. Vote for Prop 5/Article 22 on Nov. 8.