FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)- Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky and ACLU Kentucky held its annual reproductive rights rally Tuesday as the General Assembly started its shortened 2021 session.
Part of that session includes discussion of two bills so far on reproductive rights.
Wednesday, Senate Bill Nine (SB 9), the “born-alive” bill, passed the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee.
It would require a baby born alive, even during an abortion, be given life saving medical care. It would also formalize any baby born alive should be treated as a legal person according to state law.
“It really provides exactly what it says,” bill sponsor Senator Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Crofton, said. “It requires a child born alive from any circumstance, whether it’s an abortion that didn’t work or a premature birth or whatever the circumstance might be. It is not just limited to abortions. But if a child is born alive, it must be given medical care consistent with whatever its needs are.”
The consequence for not following the proposed law would be revocation of the medical provider’s license and felony charges.
The General Assembly passed a similar bill last session, but the Governor vetoed it.
The Kentucky House Judiciary Committee is considering House Bill Two. It would give the attorney general’s office the power to regulate abortion clinics in the state.
The people rallying Tuesday call that “a transparent power grab by the Attorney General, giving the office purview over abortion providers, who are already the most heavily regulated providers in the state”.
“The Kentucky Supermajority is diverting precious government resources away from the COVID-19 pandemic so they can pass dangerous anti-abortion legislation without public input that would have lasting effects in the commonwealth,” said Tamarra Wieder, PPAIK Kentucky State Director. “The cynical move of the Republican Supermajority to strip power from the administration, in particular the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and place health care decisions under someone without a medical background is a dangerous game to play with people who are already trying to survive the economic, social and racial issues compounded by COVID-19.”
The reproductive coalition says it wants legislation that would mandate coverage of 12 months of birth control at a time, comprehensive sex education, policies to reduce maternal mortality, a tax exemption on menstrual products, and paid parental leave.
“No government should be so powerful they can force someone to stay pregnant against their will, and certainly not a government that cannot even ensure a person will survive their pregnancy,” said Heather Ayer, campaign coordinator for the ACLU of Kentucky. “The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world and that rate has been increasing for decades. We are actually more likely to die in pregnancy than our parents were.”
“Despite claiming to want these restrictive laws to protect health, these same lawmakers are ignoring the true health crisis facing many pregnant Kentuckians,” said Rep. Attica Scott. “Among people who survive pregnancy and childbirth each year, 50,000 experience life-threatening complications related to pregnancy. These complications, known as severe maternal morbidity, affect Black people twice as often as their white peers.”
“COVID-19 is pushing women to the brink. Not only are women exhausted from child care, housework and caring for elderly and vulnerable family and friends, now their paychecks have disappeared because they see no path forward to protect both their jobs and families,” said Rep. Josie Raymond. “In September of last year, 865,000 women left the labor force—more than four times the number of men who dropped out. I’m one of those women. Last spring I left my full-time job to care for my two kids whose daycare closed and another doing kindergarten on the computer. Good policy made in this capitol could help these moms reenter the workforce, benefitting all of us. But instead of doing everything in our power to lift our caregivers up, our state legislature is trying to strip away access to basic care by forcing women to continue pregnancies and restricting abortion care.”