Health Kentucky Politics

As of Monday morning, more than 400 health care providers from 20 Kentucky counties had signed an open letter urging voters to reject a constitutional amendment that could bolster abortion restrictions in the state. 

Amendment 2, which is on Kentuckians’ ballots in Tuesday’s general election, would add language the state’s foundational document stating “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.”

That would put the question of access in the hands of the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, and prevent courts from using the document to interpret a right to abortion. 

Providers say in the letter that if passed, the changes would put patients’ lives at risk, by compromising care for people with complicated pregnancies and those experiencing miscarriage or who have been diagnosed with cancer. 

“As doctors and health care providers, we take an oath to do no harm,” it reads, in part. “We stand united to oppose Amendment 2 and the harm it will cause to our patients and communities.”

The letter was organized independently by health care providers, but published by Protect Kentucky Access, a group that’s been campaigning for months to get voters to the polls and to reject the amendment. 

“Amendment 2 takes the power to make personal medical decisions away from patients and their doctors and gives it entirely to politicians,” Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Protect Kentucky Access said in a news release. “Health care providers know firsthand that every pregnancy is unique, and that Amendment 2 is a one-size-fits-all approach that would put their patients’ lives at risk.”

Abortion has been banned in the commonwealth in most cases since August, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s trigger ban on abortion could be enforced as a challenge against it continues. That state law went into effect following the United States Supreme Court decision in June to overturn Roe versus Wade, but was previously blocked in state court. 

The letter will remain open through Election Day. If passed, the amendment would take effect after the state certifies vote totals. That deadline is Nov. 28.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.