“The KY Supermajority is diverting valuable government time away from the COVID-19 pandemic to take power away from a governor who supports access to safe, legal abortion.”
Frankfort, KY— On Tuesday, the Kentucky General Assembly began its 2021 legislative session with a focus on anti-choice legislation, instead of addressing real issues facing Kentuckians in a pandemic. Dozens of people from across the commonwealth rallied around the capitol in their cars, advocating for access to a full range of health care in the face of aggressive plays for power by a Republican Supermajority with a stronghold over the state legislature.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky (PPAIK) along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY) hosted the 2021 Reproductive Rights Rally as a united front to defend constitutionally-protected access to basic human rights and lift up legislation that will impact the reproductive health of Kentuckians across the commonwealth.
“The Kentucky Supermajority is diverting precious government resources away from the COVID-19 pandemic so they can pass dangerous anti-abortion legislation without public input that would have lasting effects in the commonwealth,” said Tamarra Wieder, PPAIK Kentucky State Director. “The cynical move of the Republican Supermajority to strip power from the administration, in particular the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and place health care decisions under someone without a medical background is a dangerous game to play with people who are already trying to survive the economic, social and racial issues compounded by COVID-19.”
The coronavirus pandemic continues to demand elected leaders who will fight for the rights of all people. The reproductive champions at the capitol rallied for the right to access basic health care. The reproductive coalition is fighting for legislation to mandate coverage of 12 months of birth control at a time, comprehensive sex education, policies to reduce maternal mortality, a tax exemption on menstrual products, and paid parental leave.
“No government should be so powerful they can force someone to stay pregnant against their will, and certainly not a government that cannot even ensure a person will survive their pregnancy,” said Heather Ayer, campaign coordinator for the ACLU of Kentucky. “The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world and that rate has been increasing for decades. We are actually more likely to die in pregnancy than our parents were.”
Speakers emphasized how politically motivated threats to reproductive health care are part of a coordinated attack on our health and rights, including dangerous actions made by elected officials against the Black community, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. We stand together in solidarity against attacks in our communities.
“Despite claiming to want these restrictive laws to protect health, these same lawmakers are ignoring the true health crisis facing many pregnant Kentuckians,” said Rep. Attica Scott. “Among people who survive pregnancy and childbirth each year, 50,000 experience life-threatening complications related to pregnancy. These complications, known as severe maternal morbidity, affect Black people twice as often as their white peers.”
“COVID-19 is pushing women to the brink. Not only are women exhausted from child care, housework and caring for elderly and vulnerable family and friends, now their paychecks have disappeared because they see no path forward to protect both their jobs and families,” said Rep. Josie Raymond. “In September of last year, 865,000 women left the labor force—more than four times the number of men who dropped out. I’m one of those women. Last spring I left my full-time job to care for my two kids whose daycare closed and another doing kindergarten on the computer. Good policy made in this capitol could help these moms reenter the workforce, benefitting all of us. But instead of doing everything in our power to lift our caregivers up, our state legislature is trying to strip away access to basic care by forcing women to continue pregnancies and restricting abortion care.”
On day one of the Kentucky General Assembly, Republican leaders made it clear they are looking at new ways to take power from Gov. Beshear and unilaterally control key issues like health care, economic development, and pensions. Yesterday the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve a transparent power grab by the Attorney General, giving the office purview over abortion providers, who are already the most heavily regulated providers in the state. The Senate Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee is also scheduled today to hear SB 9, a so-called Born Alive abortion ban, an extremist attack intended to score political points and drive a false narrative about abortion. Gov. Beshear saw through this inflammatory bill and vetoed similar legislation last session.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky (PPAIK) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring access to affordable reproductive health care, including abortion, by educating residents and policy-makers about issues affecting Hoosiers and Kentuckians. PPAIK lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and engages in limited electoral activities.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislature and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms. For additional information, visit our website at: www.aclu-ky.org