“Dear brothers and sisters, every human life, unique and unrepeatable, has worth in itself. It has an inestimable value. And we must proclaim this always anew, with courage in our words and in our actions.”  — Pope Franci, on the 25th anniversary of “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”)

A proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution will be on the ballot in the general election on Nov. 8.  If approved by voters, it will likely have serious repercussions on many areas of Vermont life.

Titled “Proposal 5” (or “Prop 5”) during the legislative phase of the amendment process, the proposed amendment will appear as “Article 22” on the ballot. Voters will be asked to vote yes or no on the question to amend Chapter 1 of the Vermont Constitution with the following language:

Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty]

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.

Though the word “abortion” does not appear in the amendment language, it is widely understood that “personal reproductive autonomy” includes unrestricted abortion, throughout all months of pregnancy, and that it would become a constitutional right in Vermont if Article 22 is approved.

Legislators supporting the amendment have stated that “personal reproductive autonomy” also includes the right to pregnancy, contraception, sterilization and even vasectomies for men. The vague term might also include gender transitioning therapy/surgery, cloning, embryonic stem cell research and things not yet imagined. The reality is that it is not clear what it means.

A constitutional amendment is not necessary to make all the above-mentioned treatments and procedures legal in Vermont; they already are. But raising their status to the level of constitutional rights may result in:

  1. Late-term abortion.  Most Vermonters who identify as pro-choice do not support late-term abortion; yet that is what will be enshrined in the Constitution.
  2. No protection for children. For most of us, when we think of personal reproductive autonomy, we think of adults, not children. However, no age restrictions appear in the wording of the amendment. It must then be assumed that teens and children may be able to make adult reproductive decisions, such as gender transitioning, without parental permission.
  3. No conscience protection for Catholic medical workers. Catholic medical workers may be forced to participate in treatments and procedures that violate their religious beliefs or risk losing their medical licenses.
  4. Taxpayer funded.Vermont taxpayers may be forced to pay for these reproductive treatments.
  5. Permanent.Whereas a law can easily be repealed if there are enough legislative votes, a constitutional amendment is essentially irreversible. It would take another lengthy amendment process, initiated by a future legislature, with widespread support, to repeal Article 22, which is highly unlikely.
    We have just one shot at preventing unrestricted abortion and many unknowns from being enshrined in the Constitution forever. Ballots will be mailed to Vermont voters around Sept. 24, so it is crucial from now until Nov. 8 to educate others and persuade them to vote no on Article 22.

What You Can Do

  1. Pray. In this year of Eucharistic revival, consider spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, praying for the intention of defeating this dangerous amendment. Many parishes are offering Eucharistic Adoration, rosaries and novenas specifically for this intention.
  2. Learn more.Be sure to attend one of the informational talks on Article 22 that are being hosted by parishes throughout the Diocese.
  3. Share. Share with friends and family the many troubling aspects of this amendment. Share with them even if they are pro-choice; they might be unaware that it could possibly affect children.
  4. Vote!Make sure you vote no on the question of whether to amend Article 22 to Chapter 1 of the Vermont Constitution. Encourage others to vote no.

— Originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.