After abortion rights victory in Kansas, can supporters repeat in Kentucky?

The question of what happened when Kansas voters shot down an amendment that would have blocked abortion rights finds answers in surprising agreement from both
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 5:06 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The question of what happened when Kansas voters shot down an amendment that would have blocked abortion rights finds answers in surprising agreement from both sides of the aisle in Kentucky.

In these post-COVID times when government distrust is surging, it is believed priorities beyond abortion may have influenced the Kansas vote.

“What I’m hearing, and we’re literally just hours after the Kansas vote, is that there were concerns about this being the first of other areas where the government shouldn’t infringe on people’s rights,” State Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) said. “I don’t think that’s the case, I think it’s a standalone issue that is strong enough to pass on its own, but people were concerned this is a strange time in our country’s history.”

“I think coming out of COVID and a lot of mistakes that were made there by governments, has people less trustful of government that at any time in recent memory,” Thayer added. “Similar to what Kansas voters saw on their ballots, the 25-word Kentucky amendment says, ‘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.’”

The Supreme Court rejection of Roe v. Wade sent abortion rights supporters into Louisville streets in protest. Opponents of the Kentucky amendment are counting on a similar backlash at the polls.

“I have found in Kentucky, men and women do not like a bunch of politicians telling them what they can do with medical care,” State Representative Mary Lou Marzian, (D-Louisville) said. “They didn’t like the seatbelt bill years ago. They don’t like to wear masks. They don’t want to get vaccinated. So they certainly don’t want a bunch of politicians in Frankfort inserting themselves into private medical decisions.”

Abortion rights supporters, however, may find a victory in Kentucky is a greater challenge than in Kansas.

“One reason Kansas is not representative of what we will see in Kentucky, and elsewhere in the country, is that it was the first battle over abortion,” University of Kentucky political science associate professor Stephen Voss said. “And the amount of money that flowed in on both sides in Kansas won’t be matched here. The ability of both pro and anti-abortion sites to blanket Kansas homes with advertising likely won’t be matched here.”

Voss also said all red states are not equal.

“Kansas has been drifting slightly leftward,” Voss said. “In particular, there’s one congressional district that’s started to tilt towards Democrats. And that movement in Kansas makes it not quite as overwhelming a red state as Kentucky has become.”

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WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)

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