Scooter MacMillan, Editor
Charlotte’s representative Mike Yantachka does not think his vote against Prop 5 will have a lot of impact on his chances in the next election.
Yantachka is running for reelection to the Chittenden 5 district of the state House of Representatives. He has represented Charlotte and a small section on the west side of Hinesburg for 12 years.
He acknowledged that he felt most people in Charlotte probably support Prop 5, an amendment to the state constitution intended to ensure women’s continuing right to an abortion, but believes voters will not change their support on the basis of this one vote.
Prop 5 was initially approved by the Legislature in 2019, but since it is a state constitutional amendment, it has to be approved in two different biennia. A biennium is a period of two years. This restriction means two different legislatures have to vote on a change to Vermont’s constitution.
Yantachka voted for Prop 5 two years ago, but this February he voted against it.
He doesn’t think his vote will have much impact on his chances at reelection or on the state of Vermont.
He believes a woman’s right to an abortion is already state law.
“I expect Prop 5 to actually pass when it goes before the electorate in November, so we’ll probably get it into the constitution,” he said.
Yantachka said, although he changed his vote on making abortion rights a part of the constitution, he still supports a woman’s right to choose, but he does not believe those rights should be enshrined in the constitution.
He worries that putting it into the constitution would preclude any further discussion of the human status of a fetus after it’s become viable. Between the 2019 vote and the recent vote, Yantachka found himself considering the issue of an embryo’s viability to live outside the womb.
“Once it reaches viability, I think that the fetus should be given proper respect as a human being, even when it’s in the womb, because I don’t see any difference between a fetus that’s just been delivered and one just prior to delivery,” Yantachka said. “I felt as a matter of conscience and for a good reason that I couldn’t vote for it.”
Although Yantachka is Catholic, he disagrees with the church’s position that all abortions are wrong. He said he based his vote on biology, not on whether the baby has a soul.
In November, voters across the state will decide whether to add this sentence to the constitution: “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.”
Yantachka said the results of reapportionment on Charlotte are pretty much a wash and won’t have much impact on the town.
The House map after reapportionment added 50-60 voters to his district.
The Senate map doesn’t appear to have made much difference to the town’s representation in Montpelier, he said.
Charlotte is part of a three-senator district that covers southern Chittenden County. The number of voters from parts of Burlington and South Burlington is almost equal to the number of voters from smaller towns in this new district.