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Frankfort, KY – On Thursday, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kentucky (PPAIK) hosted a legislative preview: Protecting Reproductive Freedoms in 2020 at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. 

Reproductive health care advocates showed a united front in their effort to defend constitutional access to basic human rights and lifted up legislation in the works that will impact the reproductive health of Kentuckians across the commonwealth.

Representatives Lisa Willner, Attica Scott and Charles Booker spoke on behalf of bills supporting comprehensive sex education, access to 12 months of birth control, and the Maternal Care Act. 

Additionally, advocates warned that extremist attempts to block access to reproductive care, including abortion, would continue this session through bills:  HB 142  a state-level ‘gag rule’ that will impact all state funding recipients from talking about abortion, and HB 67 which would amend the Kentucky Constitution to prohibit any protections for safe and legal abortion.

You can see a live streamed version of the event here.

Speaker highlights from the legislative preview are provided below:

Tamarra Wieder, PPAIK Public Affairs and Policy Director Comments

“... In June, we did polling across the state that further speaks to our mission and our fight here in the general assembly.  65 percent of Kentuckians say they would have doubts about a law that bans abortion, especially in cases of rape or incest. We also found that nearly 90 percent of Kentuckians support comprehensive sex education and birth control!

Representative Attica Scott
“We have a responsibility in Kentucky to decrease the number of preventable maternal deaths. We can do this by making sure that our implicit bias programs help providers identify unconscious bias, cultural and instructional barriers to inclusion, corrective measures to decrease implicit bias, understanding of cultural trauma and racism and especially the impact of power dynamics in organizational decision making on implicit bias, a discussion of health inequities within the perinatal field and information on reproductive justice including how your economic status, environmental justice, toxic lead exposure, immigration status, mental health, transportation and all of these issues impact reproductive health.”

Representative Lisa Willner

“Here in Kentucky we call ourselves a pro-life state but the health data and outcomes for our young people tells a different story about how we value life, how we value the quality of life and how we value the health of the lives of our young people. 

“Comprehensive sex ed is truly the most pro-life legislation that we could propose. It ought to have strong bipartisan support and we already know it has very strong public support.”

Representative Charles Booker 

“I am here today not simply as a legislator but as a father, as a son, and as a human being. Understand that if you want a better future for our commonwealth it means that we need to be standing for justice, standing for access, and protecting the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies and understanding our responsibilities to protect and defend children all the way through the life process; which means comprehensive sex education, so that they have the tools they need to make informed decisions to protect themselves and make decisions that will keep them healthy."

Wayne Gnatuk, Presbyterian Minister, President of Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

“I am here today specifically to speak against HB 142. There are faith communities who in various kinds of configurations work with nonprofits to provide social services in communities as part of their stated mission. Those services may utilize what HB 142 calls public agency funds, government money.

“When this is the case HB 142 would prohibit a clergy person like myself from providing comprehensive care to parishioners with unplanned pregnancies.

“The state should have no voice whatsoever in the personal interactions of a clergy person and any other faith leaders and those that are under those faith leaders care. That is simply impermissible. 

“Such a prohibition is morally and ethically unacceptable. I am against HB 142 and I pray for its defeat this legislative session.”

Local Students: Ashlee Van Schyndel, Nyet Abraha, Halpin Burke

“Abortion access is important to me because autonomy over my body is an essential right that needs to be protected for all. Legislative restrictions have real consequences for people who need access to this care; had I been subject to a waiting period, it is possible that I could have died from my ectopic pregnancy. In addition to giving me the life I want to live, abortion kept me alive, nd for that, I am supportive of clear, unrestricted access for all who need it,” Ashlee Van Schyndel.

“As a young, college aged, black woman I understand that sex education as it is in Kentucky is not acceptable. We can do better. It’s an issue of access and public health and it is this state’s responsibility to ensure a sexual education system designed to help young people, of all identities, thrive in all aspects of their sexual health and ultimately their lives,” Nyet Abraha.

“Would it surprise you to know that 1 in 4 women report having missed pills because they could not get their next pack in time? Birth control gave me the freedom to take control of my own life, a freedom I don’t take for granted. Being able to have a prescription for 12 months of birth control helps in the simplest ways... I can take back the time and worry of having to refill and pickup a prescription. I can focus on things that matter like my grades, instead of a trip to the pharmacy. Being able to pick up my birth control all at once would allow me to know I am protected, long term, no matter what other unpredictable events should arise in my life,”  Halpin Burke.


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