Louisville, KY — This week, on the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights and access in Kentucky are under attack like never before. Our constitutional right to abortion is at greater risk than any time since Roe was decided, and the days of legal abortion in every state may be numbered. Emboldened by these national signals, Kentucky legislators have shown their disregard for Kentuckians’ wellbeing and that they will stop at nothing until abortion is banned completely across the commonwealth.
This year marks the sixth year in a row that Kentucky politicians have introduced legislation to restrict the basic right to abortion care. Just this week the Kentucky General Assembly introduced House Bill 324, which creates onerous requirements for young people seeking an abortion. Evidence shows that laws requiring parental consent do not increase the rate at which young people tell their parents about their pregnancies or abortion care. Young people who don’t talk to their parents about their pregnancy decisions typically avoid doing so for fear of harm. Others may not live with or be able to locate their parents. Parental consent laws force young people to delay care, travel out of state, incur additional costs, or forego care altogether and go against medical recommendations.
The majority of Kentucky voters support access to all reproductive health care options, including abortion. Health care champions in every elected office have a responsibility to stand up to misinformation, fearmongering, and inflammatory rhetoric and the demands of the majority.
Statement from Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates (PPAA):
“This anniversary reminds us just how fragile the right to an abortion is in Kentucky. By this summer, the Supreme Court could officially erase nearly 50 years of precedent, allowing states to dismantle abortion access or ban abortion outright,” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. "The KYGA has already introduced HB 324, with threats of more anti-abortion bills to follow. All this on top of existing laws that disproportionately harm Black, Latino, Indigenous communities, people in rural communities, LGBTQ+ people, and people struggling to just make ends meet.
“These legislators know the maternal mortality rate in Kentucky is more than double the national average, and that the death rate for Black pregnant women is even three to four times higher. Yet, they continue to politicize an essential health care issue. This should be each person’s decision based on what is best for them, not a decision made by politicians. It is time to put politics aside and start making access to public health the priority.”
In December, at oral arguments in a case on a Mississippi abortion ban, it seemed possible that a majority of Supreme Court justices are prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion. Kentucky is one of 12 states with a trigger law that would ban abortion in most cases if Roe is overturned. Last March, the Kentucky legislature passed a state constitutional amendment with the explicit goal of making it easier to ban all abortion in the state if Roe falls. If these efforts are successful, nearly one million women of reproductive age in Kentucky will be left without access to abortion.
Right now, abortion is still safe and legal in Kentucky. While Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide safe and legal abortion hasn’t changed today, we’re preparing for future threats to abortion access. Amidst all this uncertainty, nothing changes in Planned Parenthood’s commitment to never stop fighting for Kentuckians’ freedom and power to make their own decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures.
Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, Serving AK, HI, ID, IN, KY, WA (PPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating residents and policymakers about reproductive health issues in Alaska, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky and Washington. PPAA lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood's mission, and engages in limited electoral activities.