The passage of Article 22 amending the Vermont State Constitution to enshrine abortion without restriction up until birth as a fundamental right and value of our state is deeply troubling and tragic.

As a result, no future laws or restrictions that protect the life of the child in the womb may be enacted by the legislature or government. This certainly does not bode well for the future.

Yet we Catholics and others who share our love for all human life will continue to do what we have been doing: encouraging, supporting and forming a greater culture of life.  As I wrote in my pastoral letter of Sept. 14, 2022, abortion is a choice made in desperation. Women experience higher rates of poverty than men, often have to sacrifice a career to raise children, make less money than men and lack sufficient maternity leave and affordable childcare and healthcare.

Add to this the high cost of housing, inflation and lack of affordable higher education opportunities, and you can begin to understand the hopelessness some pregnant women face.

We must increase our efforts to support pregnant women, new mothers and families.  While others are promoting abortion as a solution to poverty, we must offer other options. We must continue to create a culture of life.

On March 25, 2020, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched the “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative through the office of its Pro-Life Committee. The initiative supplied guidance and goals to prepare every Catholic parish to connect local pregnant and parenting women in need to every helpful resource. I hope that we can establish “Walking with Moms in Need” in every parish and strengthen our charitable outreach to families in crisis through our emergency aid program, St. Joseph the Provider Project and food ministries in all of our 68 parishes throughout the state.

I thank all those who worked so hard over many months to educate people about the ramifications of a “yes” vote for Article 22 and the necessity of voting “no.” In this most pro-choice of states, a significant number of citizens did vote “no” to no avail. Yet, while we cannot change the decision of Vermonters to remove all protections from an unborn child, we can provide a safe haven and resources to mothers who want to make another choice.