A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Democrat Matt Lehman, Republican Thomas Massie differ on vote on abortion constitutional amendment

By Jack Brammer
NKy Tribune reporter

SHELBYVILLE – Democrat Matt Lehman, who is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Thomas Massie, in this fall’s campaign for Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District, said Thursday he will vote against a change in Kentucky’s Constitution amendment to state there is no constitutional right to abortion in Kentucky.

Matt Lehman campaigning in Shelbyville (Jack Brammer photo)

Meanwhile, Massie, the former Lewis County judge-executive who has represented the district since 2012, said he will vote for the proposed amendment on statewide ballots in the Nov. 8 election.

If the amendment passes, the state Constitution would then pre-empt any court ruling for state abortion rights.

A legal battle is currently under way in state court between abortion rights advocates and Attorney General Daniel Cameron over the constitutionality of two state laws that would ban abortions except when the mother’s life is in danger.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Monday issued an order to stop for the time being nearly all abortions in the state. The appellate court on Thursday, at the urging of both parties, recommended transferring the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

During a campaign stop in Shelbyville, Lehman, a Newport biotech executive, was asked how he will vote on the November abortion initiative.

“I will vote no,” he said.

Lehman then added, “I’m a lifelong Catholic. My religion and my faith have been formed – my beliefs about reproduction and abortion.

“But I’m not in the running to be bishop. I am here to represent all of my district, all of Kentucky.”

He said reproductive rights must provide equal protection.

Asked how he would vote on the constitutional amendment, Massie, in an email, said, “I will be voting for the proposed Constitutional Amendment. The Supreme Court didn’t make abortions illegal, and neither does this amendment.

“This amendment simply does what the (U.S.) Supreme Court did, which is to say, it reaffirms that in our form of government, state legislatures will make the laws governing abortion.”

The proposed amendment to be on the ballot is only one line.

Thomas Massie

It says, “To protect human life, nothing in the Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

Some abortion rights advocates are hoping that the vote in Kansas on Tuesday might affect the 4th District race and other mid-term elections this year. Kansas voters turned down by a vote of about 60 percent to 40 percent in a heavy turnout an amendment declaring no constitutional right to abortion.

Kansas was the first step to consider such an issue, since the U.S. Supreme Court in June said no to Roe v. Wade, its landmark 1973 decision that said there was a federal constitutional right to abortion access.

Lehman said in Shelbyville that he was not sure how or if the Kansas vote will have any implications for the 4th Congressional District race.

“It’s always interesting when you talk about singe-issue referenda,” he said, noting that the Kentucky referendum is similar to what Kansa voters turned down.

Kentucky’s abortion amendment is listed as Constitutional Amendment 2 on the ballot.

It follows a lengthier, more densely written Constitutional Amendment 1 that, among other changes affecting the General Assembly, allows the legislature to call itself into a special session once a year for up to 12 days. Currently, the constitution requires the governor to call special legislative sessions.

The 4th Congressional District has been Republican for many years. As of June, Republicans outnumbered Democrats in the district, 309,219 to 236,146. The last time a Democrat represented the district was Ken Lucas from 1998 to 2004. It has been in GOP hands for all but six years since 1967.

Ethan Keith Osborne of Covington is in this fall’s race as an independent. He was not immediately available for comment about the abortion amendment.

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One Comment

  1. Ellen Ziegler says:

    Matt Lehman certainly has my respect and my vote for taking a courageous stand on the issue of not being an extremist when it comes to women’s personal decisions about their choices in health issues and reproductive choices. Massie is a total obstructionist whose time in office has been way too long. Although he has signs all over proclaiming that he is pro life, his votes in the past have demonstrated a true disregard for the living.

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