Frankfort, KY — On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare, and Family Services heard an omnibus abortion bill that would stigmatize and restrict abortion care across the commonwealth. Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates (PPAA) and reproductive rights allies condemned the bill as an effort to push divisive politics not based in science, while communities call for relief efforts in response to a COVID resurgence and storms that have devastated much of Western Kentucky.
“Legislators steamrolling through an avalanche of attacks against abortion care while communities struggle to survive COVID and the devastation of the worst natural disaster on record in our state is tone-deaf and dangerous,” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates (PPAA). “As the committee heard today, there is a significant health care provider shortage in our state. We should be doing everything we can to increase access to care instead of passing legislation that criminalizes providers, inserts politics into medicine, and makes our state more hostile when it comes to caring for Kentuckians. This bill is the antithesis of showing we support access to basic health care.”
This is the second hearing for a bill that has yet to be seen in full by the public or other elected state representatives. A summary of the bill was first introduced by Representative Nancy Tate (R-D27) during a Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee meeting in October. Now that the bill has been heard in both the House and Senate Committees, it is safe to say we could see immediate action to restrict basic reproductive care come January.
The key components of the bill include:
Restricting access to safe, effective medication abortion, ignoring current medical and scientific guidance;
Making it more difficult for minors to access abortions, including making it difficult or impossible for minors who are pregnant because of abuse by their parent or guardian to obtain a judicial bypass;
Prohibiting health facilities from safely and respectfully handling fetal remains in accordance with accepted standards and practice;
Requiring the state to promote the fraudulent idea that medication abortion can be reversed; and
Expanding existing restrictions that prohibit public funding from being given to any institution that performs, refers for, or counsels about abortions.
It is clear that the Kentucky General Assembly will not stop until abortion is completely banned. Our elected leaders are out of touch with what Kentuckians want and we must hold them accountable. Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Kentucky (PPAA), the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU), and Dr. La-Tisha Frazier, OB GYN resident physician, condemn the passage of the bill.
Dr. La-Tisha Frazier, OBGYN Resident Physician:
“The decisions I make every day for my patients are based on science, not opinion. We know without a doubt that medication abortion is a safe, effective option that gives patients more control over their own health care. Yet we have non medical professionals pushing misinformation on the safety of medication abortion regularly. With a medical professional, patients can decide when the abortion starts, where it should happen, and who should be with her while it is happening. For many patients, using medications to end a pregnancy is safer and medically preferable. For example, medication abortion may be medically indicated for women who have certain uterine anomalies or who have large uterine fibroids.”
Jackie McGranahan, policy strategist with the ACLU of Kentucky:
“The Kentucky General Assembly has been clear – the goal is to end all access to abortion for all people regardless of their circumstances, the circumstances of the conception or the circumstances of the health of the pregnancy. You have continued to use the power of the state to force people to remain pregnant against their will and you will continue to use this power to make pregnant people remain pregnant against their will. Consequently, you will continue to compel all pregnant people to carry their pregnancies until they are forced to give birth against their will or to miscarry. I am here today to say that no government should ever be so powerful”
Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director of PPAA:
“Instead of helping Kentuckians access the care and resources they need to recover from multiple intersecting crises and natural disasters, this bill piles on a laundry list of medically unsound requirements for abortion providers that will in turn limit patient access to care. It would restrict access to safe, effective medication abortion; make it difficult or impossible for young people from abusive families to access abortion care; and require providers to give patients false information about so-called “abortion reversal,” an unproven procedure with no basis in science.”