Counter-protestors hold signs in front of a rally encouraging voters to vote yes on Amendment 2, whi...

Reactions To Kentucky’s Abortion Ballot Measure Results Are Hype

It’s really surprising.

by Collette Reitz

You might wonder why abortion advocates are cheering for a state where abortion remains illegal, but pro-choice voters were given something to get excited about as Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2 failed to pass in the 2022 midterms. The amendment, presented directly to voters as a ballot measure in the 2022 election, proposed changing the Kentucky state Constitution to codify that there was no right to abortion — but voters rejected the amendment, according to the Associated Press. While it doesn’t change the current abortion ban in the state, here’s why tweet reactions to Kentucky’s abortion ballot measure results are hype about the amendment’s failure.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. ET, The New York Times and AP officially called the results for the proposal of Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2, with the “no” votes, which supported abortion access, coming out on top at 52.6% of the vote, with 86% of the votes in. It was a surprising result in a state that enacted an abortion ban on Aug. 2, not even two months after the Dobbs decision. Furthermore, the way the amendment was written for the Nov. 8 election definitely seemed meant to entice anti-choice voters. In full, according to WCPO, it read:

“Are you in favor of amending the Constitution of Kentucky by creating a new Section of the Constitution to be numbered Section 26A to state as follows: 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?”

When Kentuckians voted “no” by enough of a margin to secure the victory, pro-choice advocates celebrated the decision. The ACLU of Kentucky called the proposed amendment “an extremist attempt to permanently ban abortion.”

If it passed, the amendment would have fully removed any constitutional right to abortion in Kentucky, which at present, provides exceptions when a “woman or other pregnant individual is at risk of death or serious permanent injury,” according to The Washington Post.

Pro-choice advocates were really excited for this glimmer of hope.

The state of abortion in the United States has been ever fluctuating since the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which effectively overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the national right to abortion. Kentucky was one of many states that, following the decision, enacted laws nearly completely banning abortion in the state — with exceptions to “prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ” of a patient, per Axios. Kentucky also has a six-week ban, which outlaws abortion past the detection of embryo cardiac activity.

While the “no” vote doesn’t bring back abortion rights, it does help prevent an extreme constitutional restriction — and it leaves the door open for state laws to potentially be changed in future. It’s a significant choice from a state that has been reliably red for over two decades.

Ona and Dr. Ernest Marshall, founders and co-owners of EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Kentucky and founding members of the Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund, released a hopeful statement about the proposed amendment. “Yesterday, Kentucky voters rejected amendment 2, which would have paved the way for a permanent ban on abortion in our state,” they said in the Nov. 9 statement, shared with Elite Daily.

Pointing out that Kentuckians “seek abortions for a variety of medically complex and deeply personal reasons,” they continued, “with this vote, the people of Kentucky showed great care and respect for each other and sent a clear message to lawmakers: that they trust each person to decide what’s best for themselves and their families.”

Finally, Ona and Dr. Ernest Marshall re-upped their commitment to fight Kentucky abortion bans and counted Tuesday’s result as a positive step forward, saying, in part, “...the defeat of amendment 2 means that we can go on to fight for the rights, freedom, and equality of everyone in the state.”

Looking at the reactions of pro-choice advocates, it seems like they’re ready for a fight.