Democratic lawmaker introduces bill to restore abortion access in Kentucky
Rep. Lindsey Burke speaks on her abortion access bill. (Lantern photo by Sarah Ladd)
FRANKFORT — Pointing to a November vote in which Kentuckians defeated an anti-abortion constitutional amendment, a state representative proposed legislation Wednesday to restore abortion access.
Rep. Lindsey Burke, D-Lexington, acknowledged the difficulty in getting her bill heard.
The Republican supermajority is “not interested in bipartisanship,” she said while criticizing the lack of Democratic bills heard this session.
“I have no reason to think this will go different,” she said, “even though the people of Kentucky have been very clear how they feel on this issue.”
Her legislation states that, among other things: “Every individual has a fundamental right to choose or refuse to bear a child or obtain an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus, or to protect the life or health of the pregnant person,” according to a draft of the bill.
“As someone who loves children and has been trying to become a mother for several years, I’ve had my eyes opened to the reality that abortion is an integral part of reproductive health care,” Burke told reporters.
People behind her, meanwhile, held signs that said: “Bans off our bodies” and “Abortion is healthcare.”
“The bill does not venture into new territory,” Burke said. “It simply restores us to the laws that were here for the majority of the late 20th century…”
Burke also pointed to Kentucky’s maternal mortality rates and the high number of children in foster care and promised her bill would offer some “balance.”
Co-sponsor Lamin Swann, D-Lexington, said that “enforced pregnancy affects disproportionately those who are struggling financially, Black, Indigenous, and people of color, the undocumented, young people and the LGBTQ community.”
Supreme Court ruling
Last week, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled against a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to uphold an injunction that had briefly reinstated access to abortion in the state.
That means the commonwealth’s six-week abortion ban will remain in place as the case is litigated.
The high court decision came more three months after arguments on the issue were heard on Nov. 15. Under it, EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood in Louisville cannot resume abortion services at 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Tamarra Wieder, the director of Kentucky’s Planned Parenthood Alliance, said the group is still analyzing the decision.
“The Supreme Court did leave the doors open for us to go back and fight tomorrow and that’s what we’re going to do,” Wieder said. “Our doors at Planned Parenthood stay open. Our priority is to start providing abortion care again. And so we are looking forward to going back to court.”
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