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Explaining Kentucky's abortion amendment on the ballot, predicting its outcome

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 19:22:46-04

(LEX 18) — This November, Kentucky voters will have a say on the future of abortion rights in the Commonwealth.

At the end of the ballot, they'll find Constitutional Amendment number 2. It asks voters if they want to put this sentence into the state constitution: "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."

Abortion is currently outlawed in Kentucky under the state's trigger law, which took effect after the United State Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June. However, a lawsuit, which seeks to establish abortion as a state right, is pending in court. So, if voters reject Constitutional Amendment 2, they will keep open the possibility of abortion being established as a state right.

However, if voters approve the amendment, it will eliminate abortion rights from the state's constitution. That would cut off the current legal challenges.

The issue is getting a lot of attention as Election Day approaches.

"What we do hear on Election Day concerning Amendment 2 will definitely make national, if not international, news," said Bob Babbage, LEX 18's political commentator.

Babbage says it's unusual for an amendment to get this much attention in Kentucky.

"Amendments don't get much attention," he said. "Historically, they're hard to sell. They're hard to get any focus."

That was his experience working on amendments in the past.

"In '98, we tried - I think for the third time - to get annual sessions of the legislature and lost. Then, in 2000, we won. Those were shoestring campaigns. Very low budget," said Babbage. "Very difficult to get any kind of energy behind."

That's not what Kentucky is seeing with amendment 2. The attention and money are there.

Opponents of the anti-abortion amendment have raised more than $3 million, according to recent election finance reports. Supporters of the anti-abortion amendment have raised almost $620,000.

"That's extraordinary. Amazing," said Babbage. "It's no wonder people are paying attention."

"Many people are definitely talking about it, sharing about it, commenting about it, and obviously donating to one side or the other," he added.