“This is the most dangerous time for abortion access in decades. The time to act is now.”
Louisville, KY — In response to a national strategy by extremist politicians to ban abortion that took a drastic turn in Texas this month, Democratic Representatives Mary Lou Marzian and Lisa Wilner announced on Thursday that they have pre-filed a bill to secure safe and legal access to abortion for all Kentuckians. Representative Nima Kulkarni, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, Kentucky Health and Justice Network, and other supporters joined in speaking of support of the legislation and demanding access to abortion for all Kentuckians.
This legislation would enshrine a right to abortion and preserve legal protections recognized by Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey for the people of Kentucky, at a time when access to abortion is hanging by a thread. It also protects the right to access affordable contraception, nullifies existing anti-abortion laws, and prohibits the state from interfering in these rights.
“We have no doubt that similar legislation will be introduced by the Kentucky General Assembly,” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “The impact of this heinous abortion ban in Texas cannot be understated. It will overwhelmingly harm Black and Latino people, people with low incomes, and people in rural areas, who already face immense barriers to health care. Kentucky has already gone above and beyond to restrict access to abortion, even during a devastating pandemic. Kentucky is one of eleven states with a 'trigger law' that means if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Kentuckians stand to lose access altogether. This is the most dangerous time for abortion access in decades. The time to act is now.”
“In the nearly 50 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, abortion opponents have waged a war on women that has regrettably chipped away their constitutional right to choose what happens to their own body,” said Rep. Marzian, the bill’s chief sponsor. “Texas’s recent legislation to essentially create an anti-abortion ‘police force’ of private citizens, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to stop its implementation opens a dangerous new front that we must stop from taking place in Kentucky and elsewhere. The legislation we are filing will do that.”
“Our country is facing a maternal mortality crisis, and pregnancy-related death in Kentucky is much higher than the national average,” said state Rep. Lisa Willner, the bill’s primary co-sponsor. “Pregnancy outcomes are worse and death rates are higher in states with restrictive abortion policies. It’s critical to protect pregnant people by protecting Roe.”
“There is no doubt the General Assembly will consider a bill next year identical to what Texas enacted, and that would all but shut the door on abortion access here in Kentucky,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Joni Jenkins. “I am proud to support Representatives Marzian and Willner’s bill, because I believe it is vital we fight to protect a right that has been the law of the land for almost five decades.”
“I am proud to stand with my legislative colleagues today and to support their bill,” Rep. Kulkarni added. “The Texas law is an affront to all women, but falls disproportionately on minorities and those who have limited incomes and who live in rural areas. Simply put, we cannot let what happened there happen here.”
“Reproductive freedom is a cornerstone of our democracy. The government should not be allowed to force a person to remain pregnant against their will,” said Jackie McGranahan, policy strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky. “Legislation based on the Texas abortion ban is already being drafted. Wealthy and well-connected Kentuckians will always be able to access abortion; it is marginalized communities who will suffer under a ban on abortion care. Reproductive decisions should be left to the pregnant person and their family, period.”
This year alone, the General Assembly introduced seven bills attacking abortion access, three of which became law. On the last day of the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 91. This bill is a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would add a new section stating that it “does not secure or protect a right to abortion or funding of abortion.” The amendment will go to the voters on the November 2022 ballot.
Abortion is still safe and legal in Kentucky and we must do everything within our power to keep it that way. The U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to act and stop enforcement of a dangerous abortion ban in Texas — on top of taking up Mississippi’s 15-week ban on December 1 — and Kentucky’s constitutional amendment challenge means Kentuckians are more at risk of losing access to abortion than ever before.
The legislation announced today will be considered during the 2022 Regular Session of the General Assembly, which convenes at the Capitol in early January. You can see the press conference live streamed earlier here.
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.