In the fight over Kentucky's abortion ballot question, it's important to understand the difference between the amendment and its likely effects
Backers and detractors of Amendment No. 2, a proposed abortion-related change to the state constitution, are trading fire over the campaigns being waged for and against the amendment. WUKY’s Josh James reports on the different ways the two groups are couching the issue.
The wording of Kentucky's Amendment allows supporters and opponents to frame the issue with some key differences — some subtle, some not-so-subtle.
The amendment appears simple on the surface. If adopted, it would add a new section to the state constitution that states, “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.”
But from there, it gets more complicated.
When on the defensive, supporters sometimes stick closely to the text itself, pointing out that the single line alone does not ban abortions. But that defense omits the downstream consequences of adding the language — namely severely undercutting any legal challenge to the state’s so-called trigger law, that does ban nearly all abortions.
It’s at that point that defenders, such as Republican Rep. Nancy Tate, add that the trigger law does contain one exception.
"It does not outlaw abortion in all cases. Under current Kentucky law, abortion is legal if necessary to preserve the life and health of a pregnant woman with a complicated pregnancy."Rep. Nancy Tate (R)
Opponents, who have sometimes equated the trigger law ban with the amendment, then frequently counter that the one exception for the life of the mother still places Kentucky’s ban among the strictest in the nation.
"What this extremist law means is that victims of rape and incest and no options, and in fact the rapist has more rights than they do about what goes on with their body."Gov. Andy Beshear (D)
So while Amendment 2 alone might not explicitly outlaw nearly all abortions, that would be the de facto effect of passing it, assuming the current trigger law stays in place. And putting the amended language in the constitution makes that outcome far more likely.