Recent House Bill may lead to abortion restrictions in Kentucky

Recent+House+Bill+may+lead+to+abortion+restrictions+in+Kentucky

Debra Murray, Digital News Editor

Recent abortion restrictions in other states have left citizens of Kentucky wondering what changes may take place here.

The new Texas law, which took effect Sept. 1 after the Supreme Court refused to immediately block its enforcement, bans abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy and makes no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse or incest. The law allows private citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who helps a woman in Texas terminate her pregnancy. 

Montana and New Hampshire this year banned abortion after 12 weeks. Specifically, bans were signed into law in those states that ban abortion at 20 and 24 weeks, respectively. Montana’s law is scheduled to go into effect in October but is facing a court challenge. New Hampshire’s became law in July.

Earlier this year, a bill titled “AN ACT proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky relating to abortion” passed in Kentucky. The bill was prefiled in November 2020 and was passed by speaker of the House, president of the Senate and delivered to secretary of state on March 30, 2021.

Kentucky State Representative Joseph Fischer (R-Campbell) is one of the 30 sponsors on the bill. 

“This bill, if approved by a majority of Kentucky voters, will amend the Constitution of Kentucky and declare that there is no state constitutional right to abortion and no state constitutional right to fund abortion services in Kentucky,” Fischer said.

According to the most recent version of the bill, voters will be asked Are you in favor of amending the Constitution of Kentucky by creating a new Section of the Constitution to be numbered Section 26A to state as follows: 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?”.

Fischer said the bill is important for two reasons — “because only the people of Kentucky have the authority to amend the State Constitution and declare what rights should or should not be protected” and “because the people of Kentucky have asked the General Assembly to give the people the opportunity to vote to protect unborn children.”

According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of U.S. adults take a non-absolutist position, saying that in most – but not all – cases, abortion should be legal (34%) or illegal (26%). Fewer adults take the position that in all cases abortion should be either legal (25%) or illegal (13%).

Fischer said he anticipates the voting results will be similar to those in Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia. In Louisiana, 23% of those polled said abortion should be illegal in all cases, according to a PRRI survey.

According to another study by Pew Research Center, 36% of adults in Kentucky believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 57% of adults beleive abortion should be illegal in all or most cases and 7% don’t know.

“This suggests that the Kentucky ‘Yes For Life’ constitutional amendment will pass by about a 60%-40% margin,” Fischer said. “When adopted, the amendment will grant to the Kentucky General Assembly exclusive authority under our state constitution to protect the lives of unborn children in Kentucky.”

While the House Bill will only impact Kentucky, similar bills have been passed throughout the United States. 

“The Kentucky ‘Yes For Life’ Constitutional Amendment affects only the constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Fischer said. “It does not impact federal law or federal court decisions. Only a new decision by the United States Supreme Court or the enactment of a similar ‘Yes For Life’ Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified by 38 states can reverse the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.”

In reality it’s whenever women are in their first trimester and they had to make this hard decision to terminate a pregnancy. The life that needs to be protected is the life of the person who is pregnant. Abortion is health care.”

— Kayla Dister

According to Fischer, once citizens vote on the amendment, the General Assemblwill have authority to decide if any restrictions will be placed on abortion providers in Kentucky. 

“Opponents of the ‘Yes For Life’ amendment will likely claim that this amendment will immediately make abortions illegal in Kentucky,” Fischer said. “That claim is false. This constitutional amendment does not make abortions illegal in Kentucky.”

Patti Minter, WKU history professor and state representative (D-Bowling Green), voted in opposition of the bill.

“The change will come, or it won’t on election night, the people will decide,” Minter said. “What I expect is that anti abortion groups will spend tons of money in the state to try to pass this with Senator Rand Paul on the ballot for re-election.” 

Minter said she believes that this bill is a ballot initiative to help Republican Senator Rand Paul 

“I anticipate that his campaign will probably be tying him heavily to that ballot initiative, and it’s one of those things,” Minter said. “I mean ballot initiatives like that are frequently passed because they’re turnout machines, and they turn out the vote of in this case conservative voters who are anti abortion.”

Several WKU students shared their opinions on bill and their thoughts on misconceptions surrounding abortion. 

“I am not fan of the specific word choice, ‘To protect human life,” Kayla Dister, sophomore studying criminology and forensic psychology from Newburgh, Indiana said. “This sounds good in theory but it’s being used against the lives of women seeking abortions. Women end up pregnant for many reasons, with failed birth control being the primary cause.”

Brianna Barley, an education major from Louisville said she disagrees with the bill  “it doesn’t allow for any exceptions in regards to unique situations like rape.”

There are many misconceptions on why women receive abortions, Dister said, while people “think that those who want to have an abortion are using that as their sole form of birth prevention, when in reality it’s a detrimental decision for someone to make.”

“In reality it’s whenever women are in their first trimester and they had to make this hard decision to terminate a pregnancy,” Dister said. “The life that needs to be protected is the life of the person who is pregnant. Abortion is health care.”

Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy