Elected Officials Refused to Hear Testimony in Committee on Access to Abortion
FRANKFORT, KY – Today, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky (PPAIK) condemned legislators for their actions on two dangerous anti-abortion bills. House Bill 67 would amend the Kentucky Constitution to prohibit any protections for safe and legal abortion, and Senate Bill 90 would allow all health care institutions to refuse to provide any care that conflicts with their personal beliefs. Together, both bills will effectively end abortion across the commonwealth. The bills are now headed to the House and Senate floors.
House Bill 67 was heard today in the Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, and committee chair, Rep. Kevin Bratcher ended testimony in opposition after only 10 minutes, denying former patients to plea on behalf of access to abortion care.
“Today, voices were silenced for political gain. The goal of these bills is to ban all abortion care in the state,” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director for PPAIK. “HB 67 is an extreme bill that risks Kentuckians’ lives to score political points. If allowed to take effect, the consequences would be dire. This bill simply goes too far in inserting government into our personal, private lives. It affects important life decisions that should be made by individuals in consultation with their doctors, their families, and their faith, and not extremist politicians.”
This constitutional amendment is part of an aggressive anti-abortion agenda pushed by politicians here and across the country to do one thing — end access to abortion. The intent behind HB 67 is to eliminate abortion care, and to do so at a rapid pace.
This is not what people in this country want — in fact, 77 percent of Americans support access to safe, legal abortion, and there is no state in the country where abortion bans are popular. In Kentucky, —65 percent of Kentuckians say they would have doubts about a law that bans abortion, especially in cases of rape or incest.
“This is going to affect over half of the people in Kentucky who are female...there is no reason to rush this through,” said Representative Joni Jenkins. “These are important life changing decisions and to rush it through is irresponsible.” Rep. Jenkins voted no.
Representative Reginal Meeks said he sympathized with the testifiers present because people in the Black community have dealt with not being listened to for generations. “I come from a people who often have not had a say over what happens to their bodies...It is not only disrespectful it is a disgrace that we would continue to have that dominion over a very personal and private decision,” said Rep. Meeks. He also voted no.
The following is a quote from Danielle Stone, abortion advocate, who was not allowed to speak in opposition to HB 67:
“One night, that I will never be able to forget, I was raped by two men. This night plays over and over again in my head. No person should have to live with this level of trauma, but especially not a fifteen-year-old child. It was shortly after this experience that I found out I was pregnant.
“I knew that I was not ready to become a parent and the prospect of carrying this pregnancy was agonizing. I knew the best decision for me was abortion.
“I believe that every woman should have the health care coverage she needs, and that all of the bans on insurance coverage for abortion should be repealed because they are discriminatory and harm women’s health.
“Adding political language to Kentucky’s Constitution about abortion is not something the General Assembly should be debating. We owe it to women – and to ourselves – to treat them with compassion and fight for their dignity.”
The following is a quote from Sara Hall, Policy and Program Associate for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky, during her testimony against SB 90:
“This bill is so broad that any person who participates in any health care service in any way could object for essentially any reason. A receptionist could refuse to admit a patient experiencing a life-threatening miscarriage to a hospital because they did not want to participate in end-of-pregnancy care. A pharmacist could refuse to dispense antidepressants or birth control. An insurance employee could refuse to complete any insurance billing documents for vaccinations.
“This bill even allows people and institutions to deny care based on their objection to the patient themselves – such as denying contraception to an unmarried woman, or refusing to provide pediatric care to a child with gay or lesbian parents. Health care entities should not be able to pick and choose who gets to receive critical medical care based on personal or religious beliefs. Freedom of religion is important. But religious freedom does not include the right to harm others.”