FRANKFORT, Ky- A House committee passed an anti-abortion bill Thursday despite outcry from pro-choice advocates.
House Bill 67 sponsored by Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, would create a new section of the Kentucky Constitution stating the Kentucky Constitution does not secure or protect a right to abortion of the funding of abortion.
The constitutional amendment would read: “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
Several people from the ACLU of Kentucky and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky came to testify against the constitutional amendment but weren’t given a chance to speak because of an almost two-hour debate over Senate Bill 2, the voter photo ID bill. In total, only about fifteen minutes of testimony was given before being approved by members of the committee on a party line vote.
“I’m deeply embarrassed on how the committee went down on this issue, we had great debate over SB 2 and when it came to abortion there was immediate silencing the stories and the true realities of the bill, there was no opportunity for people to discuss the implications and the dangers if HB 67 comes to pass,” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky. “With abortion politics in Kentucky I shouldn’t be surprised but we should be better than actively silencing the testifiers that were brought forth today.”
Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Bratcher, D-Louisville, said the rush was because they were going to be kicked out of the committee room– but Democrats used their time to explain their no votes to express their disappointment with the rushed vote, and the bill in general.
“The way you were treated here today, I think this bill is emblematic of the way we treat women and say you don’t have the authority to make decisions about your own body, your own health care, for those who would force Kentuckians to stay pregnant against their will,” said Rep. Lisa Willner, D-Louisville. “Pregnancy, carrying a baby to term can be the matter of live or death for too many women and that we were not able to even hear your stories, I’m just embarrassed and ashamed.”
Wieder says if this bill were to go into effect it would not contain any exemptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother.
“There would be no protections to abortion in the commonwealth and as we’ve seen globally and nationally when there are more restrictions around abortion people die,” she said.
The bill passed out of committee on a party line vote and now heads to the House floor, if the bill passes both chambers it would be up to Kentucky voters to ratify the amendment.