By SEN. TIM ASHE
It’s discouraging that in the year 2018 I find myself telling constituents that, as president of the Vermont Senate, I will do whatever it takes to protect Vermont women’s right to choose. But in light of the new U.S. Supreme Court majority, that’s what I’ve said to dozens of Vermont women of all ages recently.
It’s not clear just when the court will take up a case involving abortion rights, or just how those rights will be impacted by any rulings.
What is quite clear, though, is that any action by the Supreme Court will not expand reproductive rights but erode them. It’s also likely the Court will shift responsibility for these policies back to the states. For women in many states, this could mean greatly reduced access like we’ve seen in Texas, where legislators placed deliberately onerous regulations on clinics providing reproductive services to women. Some of them were forced to close.
Here in Vermont, we will ensure there is no lag in legal rights to reproductive health services in the event of a Court ruling that undercuts the established principles in Roe v. Wade.
It’s maddening that women should need to feel anxious about long-established rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Yet the same collective failure to treat women equally plagues us in other realms. Equal pay for equal work is the law of the land, but we know it is not reality for many women. Workplace harassment is against the law, but, despite some progress, women continue to face sexist and demeaning treatment at work.
Our society, even here in Vermont, has been unacceptably slow to make women’s equality a reality. Let the recent Supreme Court battle serve as a clarion call to redouble our commitment to true equality in law and in practice.
Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden
Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore