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Abortion rights groups leading in the fundraising fight over Constitutional Amendment No. 2

Bruce Schreiner/AP
Abortion-rights supporters chant their objections at the Kentucky Capitol on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Frankfort, Ky., as Kentucky lawmakers debate overriding the governor’s veto of an abortion measure. The bill would put new restrictions on abortion, including banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner)

With Kentucky's near-total abortion ban in effect while the issue is sorted out in court, all eyes are on a highly-consequential constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall. And donors are financing campaigns to win over the hearts and minds of Kentucky voters before November 8.

Abortion rights groups, who hope to convince the state's high court to strike down Kentucky's sweeping abortion restrictions, are relying on an argument that the right to an abortion is already protected by way of language in the state constitution. But that argument would be deeply undercut by a constitutional amendment that Kentuckians will weigh in on this November.

"The Constitutional Amendment that will be on Kentucky's ballots this fall would explicitly state that there is no right to get an abortion in Kentucky, if it is adopted," Sam Crankshaw with the ACLU says.

And those high stakes haven't escaped advocates for and against abortion rights.

So far, Protect Kentucky Access, a group opposed to the amendment, has raked in $1.7 million in contributions over the last year. They're hoping for a repeat of what happened in Kansas in August, when the conservative state delivered a blow to abortion rights opponents by halting a similar anti-abortion referendum at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, Yes for Life, a group pressing for passage of Kentucky's amendment, has raised nearly half a million in its campaign.

But there are different variables in play than in Kansas, which could affect the outcome. The Herald-Leader reports, according to the census, Kansas is generally wealthier, better educated, and has fewer residents than Kentucky. The ballot measure Kansans rejected was also longer, granting specific powers to the legislature to regulate abortion.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.