On November 8, 2022, voters in the Commonwealth of Kentucky will make a decision on a proposed pro-life constitutional amendment known as “Amendment #2.” There appears to be some confusion as to the scope and nature of the amendment, so I hope this brief article can help clarify the impact of a “yes” vote.
The proposed amendment is surprisingly brief and straightforward. It reads:
“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.”
Based on my conversations with conservative evangelicals, there seems to be a concern that this amendment would ban abortions in all circumstances, even in the case of an ectopic pregnancy or other situation where the mother’s life was in jeopardy. However, the amendment does not address those scenarios and was never designed to. Although you may hear Amendment #2 labeled as a “ban on abortion,” that is not an accurate summary of the amendment’s purpose or power. The amendment does not “ban” abortion in the state of Kentucky, rather, it prevents the Kentucky courts or an individual judge from ruling that abortion is a constitutional right.
Pro-life advocates celebrated this past summer the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That historic moment did not put an end to the issue of abortion in the United States…far from it. The overturning of Roe v. Wade simply affirmed that there is no right to an abortion in the US Constitution. That means the issue was brought back to the states for voters and lawmakers to chart a path forward. In the state of Kentucky, the General Assembly and voters will determine the future of abortion law in our Commonwealth. Thankfully, a “trigger law” in Kentucky went into effect immediately following the Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade which made abortion illegal in the state of Kentucky. That can all come undone if a judge is able to declare abortion legal because of a constitutional right – a constitutional right, I might add, that does not exist.
Thus, what Amendment #2 is trying to achieve is a similar outcome to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, namely, that there is no constitutional right to an abortion in the state of Kentucky. Instead of a judge pointing to our constitution and granting abortion rights, that work would need to be done by the lawmakers and voters. The amendment also prevents tax dollars from being used to fund abortions.
To give you an idea of why this is such a pressing issue, the two abortion providers in Kentucky have asked the courts to assert a state constitutional right to abortion so that they can resume their abortion practices. That case is currently pending. This amendment would prevent the courts from declaring a right to abortion.
But again, that does not mean a ban on abortion. The General Assembly would still be able to craft laws that would impact the abortion issue, and that means the pro-life work in the state of Kentucky will always be important and necessary.
Amendment #2 does not ban abortion.
Amendment #2 does not address issues such as ectopic pregnancies.
Amendment #2 does not prevent the General Assembly from legislating on abortion law.
Amendment #2 does deny a constitutional right to an abortion.
Amendment #2 does deny the funding of abortion by taxpayers.
I hope this has been helpful to you as you prepare for November 8. Grace and peace to you all.