The Yes for Life campaign leaders say they have a big task to achieve ahead of election day — getting the word out about amendment #2 Nov. 8.
Amendment #2 is one sentence that would amend Kentucky’s Constitution. And it will be the last item — the second amendment — listed on the ballot.
The amendment states: “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.”
A “yes” vote will support the amendment.
Jason Hall, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, said it’s important to spread the word about the opportunity to vote on this amendment.
“If we get a big turnout and people understand the amendment and vote on it, then I’m pretty confident we’ll win,” he said. “It’s not about changing people’s minds on abortion in the next six weeks, but it is about making sure pro-life voters do vote on it.”
Bishop of Covington John Iffert encouraged people to become recruiters for the cause during a rally held at the state capitol in Frankfort Oct. 1.
The Yes for Life rally, part of Kentucky Right to Life’s annual Walk for Life, also included speeches by former Kentucky State Representative Addia Wuchner, now director of Kentucky Right to Life, as well as the president of Southern Seminary and a Baptist pastor.
Bishop Iffert said he wants every person who attended the rally “to go out and recruit 10 other people who also agree with us on Yes for Life. … I want you to be a crowded army, a multitude of recruiters who are going out there and explaining to people not only why they themselves should vote ‘yes’ for life, but why they should get out recruiting others.”
He said legal scholars have been “telling us that this amendment that is proposed for the Kentucky Constitution is the most important legal action that we can take to protect life.”
“All it would do is to say that nothing in the state Constitution of Kentucky guarantees a right to abortion,” said Bishop Iffert. “That’s all it will do. It will say ‘nothing in the state Constitution guarantees the right to abortion’ so that no judge, no individual can decide otherwise and enforce it upon us.
“It will return this matter to the people so that the people through their elected representatives can have the conversation about how we are to treat the question of abortion in our society,” he said. “It will not create a new abortion ban. It will not create any new abortion laws. It will not create any new abortion restrictions.”
Hall of the CCK said he’s encountered a “tremendous amount of confusion and misinformation” surrounding the bill. To combat that, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky — which represents the commonwealth’s bishops on matters of public policy — held several information and training sessions in September to teach listeners how to answer commonly asked questions and dispel myths.
“The best way to deal with that is to put good info out there and to have folks on the ground who can answer those questions,” Hall said during a Sept. 29 training session.
He said he often hears that amendment #2 will ban all abortions and prevent women from getting medically necessary treatment for things like ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages.
“This amendment doesn’t do that,” he said. “This amendment would leave all of those questions in the general assembly.”
The training sessions explained how to use the Yes for Life advocacy toolkit, which is available on the yesforlifeky.com website; why churches are legally able to support amendment #2; how informed parishioners can make an announcement about the amendment after Masses; and how to report donations as in-kind contributions to the campaign.
He noted that it’s a common misconception that churches aren’t allowed to take a position on political issues. While it’s true that religious organizations cannot endorse candidates or engage in their campaigns, “the difference here is federal law and the IRS do not consider ballot questions to be candidates,” Hall explained.
“We cannot endorse candidates but when it comes to yes or no questions, there are no restrictions on what nonprofit organizations can do or advocate,” he said.
During the training session, St. Margaret Mary Church parishioner Amy Craft said the parish has ordered shirts that say “Vote YES on KY amendment 2.” The parish is asking people to wear them “to the grocery store, soccer game, wherever, to be walking billboards.”
Bishop Iffert noted during the rally that amendment #2 will appear at the end of the ballot. He’s concerned that people who use the straight-party voting option are “going to check that first box and they’re going to think that they are done but you are not done.” “You have to go all the way down the ballot past the U.S. Senator, past the congressional elections, past the mayoral elections, past the city council elections, past the school board elections, past all of that, past amendment #1 — with its nine numbered paragraphs and whatever else is there — and go to amendment #2, the last thing on the ballot. And when it asks you, ‘Do you want to create a section of the Constitution that for the protection of life nothing in this Constitution can be understood as guaranteeing the right to abortion?’ You’re going to vote yes.”