Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Kentucky is Not Kansas When it Comes to Protecting Unborn Life

by | Oct 14, 2022 | Opinion Pieces | 0 comments

Earlier this year Kansas voters shocked the nation by voting down an amendment to their Constitution that simply says that abortion is not a protected right. The 60 to 40 percent margin of defeat was a wake-up call to pro-lifers in the Commonwealth. But Kentucky is not Kansas.

For starters the language of Kansas’ constitutional amendment was confusing. The explanation of the amendment and the amendment language contained 10 times more words than Kentucky’s Amendment. Kansas lawmakers, whom some asserted purposely confused the amendment, were unclear in parts and used a total of 254 words.

Fortunately, this is not the case for Kentucky where Amendment #2 is clear: “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.” It’s a simple, straightforward 25 words.

Kansas also differs from Kentucky in that there was a state Supreme Court ruling in 2019 that found a right to abortion in their Constitution. Kentucky has no such previous ruling. The opposition told women a yes vote would take away their rights—a partial truth swallowed within a bigger lie. This underscores why the Yes for Life amendment is so necessary. The question is whether people should decide this issue through their elected representatives and through the legislative process? Or should judges decide this issue and impose their views on the populace?

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned the notorious Roe v. Wade ruling, came down five weeks before the Kansas vote. Many Kansas voters wrongly believed that Dobbs banned abortion. Even though that wasn’t the case, the main group opposed to the measure called Kansas For Constitutional Freedom (KFCF) stoked fear and peddled outright lies, including the charge that a “yes” vote would prevent pregnant women from life-saving medical help in a crisis pregnancy. This lie deserves five Pinocchios.

Value Them Both (VTB) was outspent by $4 million. They raised $9 million while KFCF raised $13 million (as of the last campaign finance disclosure), mostly from outside the state. VTB’s fundraising efforts were laudable, but not enough to overcome the scaremongering campaign. So much money and energy went into defeating the Kansas Amendment because it was the frontline in the war over abortion policy and how such policy should be decided: via judges or the people.

Brittany Jones, a spokesperson of VTB, told me that they were on defense the entire time. Pro-abortion advocates spread so much misinformation that they spent so much time trying to address the misinformation. But we all know that you cannot win anything when you are playing defense.

The confusion and scare tactics drowned out the science, the truth, and the legislative intent of the Kansas constitutional amendment. Yet, should we be surprised since this has been the modus operandi of pro-abortion forces from the beginning? I saw this firsthand at the Yes for Life rally at the Kentucky Capitol on October 1. Pro-lifers gathered to hear inspiring messages from the speakers who advocated for the Yes for Life Amendment #2. Down the Capitol steps opponents blared music through a speaker and did their best to drown out pro-life messages. However, in an act of charity, Catholic Bishop John Iffert told the audience, “we will not respond in kind. We would love our enemies.” He was taking his cues from a different playbook.

At one point during the rally, there was a moment of silence to recognize all the unborn lives lost in the last 49 years since Roe v. Wade. An ultrasound of an unborn child’s heartbeat was played over the speakers while disrupters tried to drown out that heartbeat. Such contrast summarized the half-century fight for dignity and protection for the unborn. Kentucky voters will soon have an opportunity to bring clarity as to which side they agree with.