While completely ignoring the dire need for COVID-19 relief, the KY General Assembly rushes to pass a constitutional amendment declaring no right to abortion
FRANKFORT, KY – Today, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky (PPAIK) condemned politicians in the General Assembly for the passage of House Bill 91 — a state constitutional amendment passed with the explicit goal of making it easier to ban all abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned. After the Trump administration appointed three justices to the Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court now has a majority that may put abortion access at risk.
Currently, 1 in 3 women of reproductive age live in a state where abortion could be outlawed if Roe is overturned. That’s 25 million people. In 2014, Tennessee approved a similar measure and, in the years since, that state legislature has pushed through eight more bills that severely restrict access to abortion, including a ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy. Kentucky already has some of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country. If HB 91 becomes law, we can expect to see a similar wave of even more outrageous and harmful laws limiting access to abortion.
“Health care and the right to bodily autonomy are basic human rights,” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky state director of PPAIK. “This constitutional amendment puts tens of thousands of Kentuckians’ access to safe, legal abortion at risk, and inserts the government into our individual, personal health care decisions. Abortion is health care and is a core component of social and economic equality for individuals, their families, and their communities.”
“This constitutional amendment is a blatant effort to take away Kentuckians’ fundamental rights and prevent individuals from making the health care decisions best for them and their families,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “As Kentuckians continue to grapple with the deadly impacts of the pandemic and systemic racism, restricting access to abortion is the last thing politicians should be focusing on right now. This is another example of extreme politicians putting their personal beliefs before the people and their priorities. Planned Parenthood is committed to fighting for abortion access in Kentucky and across the country because every person deserves to access safe, legal abortion — regardless of where you live or how much you make.”
The impact of abortion restrictions is disproportionately felt by those who already experience barriers to health care, including young women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, those with low incomes, and Kentuckians who live in rural areas or have undocumented immigration status. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “decreasing women’s access to abortion will likely increase negative health outcomes and complications, including maternal and infant mortality.” Kentuckians already suffer from a maternal mortality crisis, with a higher rate of maternal mortality than the national average — an issue that has been completely ignored by the politicians trying to force the constitutional amendment on the state.
This is the fifth consecutive year anti-abortion lawmakers have introduced legislation to take away the right to abortion. This year alone, the Kentucky General Assembly passed two bills attacking abortion access in the first few weeks of session. Now, politicians are focused on passing another dangerous anti-abortion bill in the final two days of session before adjourning, even after members of the State House majority expressed their dissatisfaction in prioritizing this issue.
Despite the fact that a majority of Kentuckians believe that people should be able to get the reproductive health care they need — including abortion — this legislature is trying to make it easier for extremist politicians to limit access to abortion in the state. Gov. Beshear cannot veto a constitutional amendment passed by the legislature. Instead, the bill will be placed on the 2022 November ballot for popular vote.
It is more important than ever for the Kentucky constitution to protect the right to basic, life-saving health care without government interference into personal, private decisions.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky (PPAIK) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring access to affordable reproductive health care, including abortion, by educating residents and policy-makers about issues affecting Hoosiers and Kentuckians. PPAIK lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and engages in limited electoral activities.