On Election Day, five states voted to support abortion access: California, Montana, Michigan, Vermont and Kentucky.
Yes, that is right. Kentucky midterm voters voted against an amendment that would restrict abortion access.
Kentucky has always been one of the most restrictive states in terms of abortion access. In 2019, Kentucky signed into law both a bill that restricted abortion after six weeks when a fetal heartbeat is detected and a trigger law that would ban abortion immediately with Roe v. Wade reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, Kentucky’s trigger law into effect.
Even though Kentucky legislators have been restricting abortion and reproductive health access for a long time, this was the final straw. Kentuckians finally woke up. It wasn’t just Democratic Kentuckians that realized the severity of the situation… it was the majority of Kentuckians.
Immediately following the ruling, abortion rights protests erupted around the state, even in rural, predominantly “red” cities.
Leading up to the vote, my heart would ache at the possibility of not winning the vote against the amendment that would restrict abortion. My mom told me that no matter what I would be okay, but I was not thinking about myself. I am privileged that I can travel to receive reproductive healthcare as needed, but the majority of Kentuckians cannot. Before the trigger law, there was only one abortion clinic in the entire state, so it is not like there was a lot of access before it went into effect.
I spent my entire summer traveling to cities around Kentucky attending abortion rights rallies, and then my fall semester of school phone banking with Protect Kentucky Access. The effort was organized, and we were raising a lot of money, but I was still nervous.
Kentucky is a deeply red state with a lot of one-issue abortion voters. The polls were showing U.S. Democratic Senatorial Candidate Charles Booker significantly behind U.S. Senate Incumbent Rand Paul. How could we win the right to abortion but not vote Booker into office?
Booker lost the U.S. Senate race, but all Kentuckians won the right to abortion access. I cannot help but hope that abortion is becoming less of a political issue, divided by party lines, and instead becoming what it is supposed to be, which is a reproductive health issue.
The fight for abortion freedom in Kentucky is far from over. On Tuesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron argued that the Kentucky Supreme Court should dismiss the vote, and should dismiss the voice of Kentuckians.
Instead of staying silent, Kentuckians protested once again.
We shocked the nation and will continue to do so.