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Advocates for abortion saw major victories in the midterm elections—even in deep red states like Kentucky. 

This November, voters in the state rejected Amendment 2, a ballot measure that would have amended the state's constitution to ensure that nothing within it creates a right to abortion. The amendment failed to pass by nearly 5 percentage points, or 742,232 votes against to 675,634 votes in favor.

Despite the victory for reproductive health, a near-total abortion ban is still in place in the state, outlawing the procedure in nearly all cases. The ban is currently under judicial review, but with Roe v. Wade overruled, it's unlikely abortion will be legal again anytime soon.

"The fact of the matter is that abortion and reproductive rights have been under attack in Kentucky for decades now," Meghana, a 25-old Kentuckian, told Scalawag ahead of the election. "It is an issue that touches the very core of bodily autonomy and freedom."

With the future of abortion in Kentucky still in limbo, organizers are taking lessons from this victory to build momentum toward returning bodily autonomy to the people. In this illustrated story, a Kentucky mother-daughter artist-activist team spoke with organizers in their home state about how they defeated the "red wave" this midterm.

See also:

Arwen Donahue and Phoebe Wagoner are a mother-daughter team. This story is their first published collaboration.


This season on As The South Votes, Scalawag and Anoa Changa are teaming back up to talk about what's working, what's not, and what lessons Southern organizers have learned in their efforts to make the region we love a more just place.

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Arwen Donahue

Arwen is the author of the graphic memoir Landings: A Crooked Creek Farm Year (Hub City, 2022). Her comics and graphic stories have been featured in The Nib, The Rumpus, The Field Guide to Graphic Literature, and elsewhere. She lives on a farm in Kentucky, where her family has raised produce for local markets for over 20 years.

Phoebe Wagoner

Phoebe Wagoner is currently a student at Columbia University but grew up on her family's farm in Kentucky. Some of her other illustrations can be found in the Blue and White Magazine and jGirls Magazine.