One of the most controversial issues today would appear, at the surface level, to be about whether abortion should be legal or illegal.

However, the reality is that the actual question being asked and decided at this time is whether abortion is a right afforded by constitutions. The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that, contrary to the decision rendered in Roe v. Wade, that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee among its rights the right to an abortion.

While that decision was made in the courts at the federal level, here in Kentucky that same question will be decided this year in a different way.

Among the many different offices on the ballot will be two ballot questions, one of which has been named the “No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment.” If a majority votes “yes” on this matter, then the Kentucky Constitution will be amended to state that nothing in the constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion. That would, in essence, require action at the federal level to override state-level decisions on abortion access.

If a majority votes “no” then no such amendment will be added, and, essentially the question will remain unanswered by the state’s constitution.

A recent poll conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group posits that a majority of Kentuckians oppose the state’s recently-enacted but extremely litigated ban on abortion. According to the Democratic Governors Association, 62 percent oppose the ban.

Polling is notoriously easily manipulated. It would be really easy in the case of Kentucky’s new law to ask, “What is your opinion of the law?” then construe that, because people oppose that “restrictive” law, they’re also opposed to abortion.

Alternatively, the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study, conducted in 2007 and 2014, found that 57 percent of adults in Kentucky say abortion should be “illegal in all/most cases” while only 36 percent said it should be “legal in all/most cases.”

Polling aside, I think that voting habits amongst the citizens of the commonwealth are a much more accurate indicator about how the people feel about abortion. Just look at the votes cast by legislators to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the recent abortion restriction law — House Bill 3 in 2022.

Only 21 members of the House voted against overriding the veto — 13 of whom represent Jefferson County and five of whom represent Fayette County. The final vote in the Senate saw six say “No” to overriding the veto — five of whom represent Jefferson County, with the other representing Fayette County.

Keep in mind that this breakdown is the expression of the will of the voters in choosing who represents them, and while I may be naive, I believe that, at the level of state government, people do, for the most part, vote for the candidate and not the party alone. In Eastern Kentucky and other areas, the elected representatives, even the Democrats, voted to pass the law and override Beshear’s veto.

I believe that, while it’s entirely possible that voters will vote down the constitutional amendment in Kentucky come November, I would be surprised if that’s how it goes. In general, with the exception of Fayette and Jefferson County, as reflected in the veto vote, the majority of people in the other areas either oppose abortion or simply don’t have the issue as a primary driver of their vote.

However, there’s three things I’ve learned to never try to do an inflexible prediction of in Kentucky — the weather, a jury in a criminal case and the electorate.

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