This weekend, I spoke at the Life Symposium in Vermont. Presented by the Vermont Right to Life Committee Educational Trust Fund, this all-day event was designed to educate the public on “the issues impacting human life at the crossroads of law, medicine, and your community.”
One of the main focuses of this event was to raise awareness for a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution which is expected to be put before the voters in November 2022. Known as “Proposal 5” or “Article 22: Personal Reproductive Liberty,” the amendment states 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 a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
Helen Alvare, J.D., with the Culture of Life Foundation, explained in-depth how this incredibly vaguely-worded amendment would enshrine a woman’s right to abortion and anything else that may fall under the category of “personal reproductive autonomy” into the Vermont constitution, putting conscience protection rights in jeopardy and opening the possibility of health care rationing to prioritize the constitutionally protected, wide-ranging procedures under the umbrella of “personal reproductive autonomy.” It would amend the constitution and remove any remaining chance of Vermont restricting abortion at any time or for any reason, and largely leave it to judges to interpret what the vague language means.
Maureen Curly, Ph.D., a psychiatric nurse practitioner and researcher, spoke on the impact of abortion on women; Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life discussed how to protect your conscience and your profession, and the day ended with an expert panel.
My talk was entitled, “Young Adults in the Pro-Life Movement: Your Voice Matters!” Between the group sessions, I spoke with the young adults I met in passing at the conference, and I was so encouraged by what I saw and heard: There were youth from across the state (and even some from New Hampshire!) who were eager to get involved in the pro-life movement.
Many of them had almost no knowledge of the current state of the pro-life movement. They were encouraged to hear about the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court and its potential to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Texas Heartbeat Law and its ripple effect throughout the nation, and most importantly, what they can do to impact hearts and minds on the issue of abortion.
I discussed the role that Illinois Right to Life currently plays, and what my everyday tasks look like at my job. I encouraged them to sign up for our weekly newsletter, which highlights pro-life news and events in Illinois and throughout the nation, and surprisingly almost every one of them signed up!
I also discussed how they can make a difference through their social media platforms. We went through some anecdotes and how they would respond. Lastly, I explained my role of pregnancy counseling at Let Them Live. They were surprised to hear that if you give a little bit of your time, you can save so many lives.
The youth in Vermont inspire me: they are in one of the most radically pro-abortion states in the country, and yet they have the courage to risk being seen at a pro-life event and to even bring what they learned this past weekend to their day-to-day lives. We need youth, and we really do have youth who stand up for what they believe in and are willing to sacrifice their time, popularity, and sometimes so much more for doing what they know is right.