State Republicans propose revolting abortion ban: Women’s only choice is ‘to conceive or not conceive’|
Republicans have taken complete control of Kentucky’s state government for the first time in 95 years, and within the first 24 hours of this new GOP era they have pushed forward a bill to severely limit abortion rights.
The bill bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, based on the idea that fetuses are able to feel pain after 20 weeks.
Republican Senate President Robert Stivers told reporters on Tuesday the only “choice” that women should have is the “choice early on to make a decision to conceive or not conceive. But once conception starts, there becomes another life involved. And the legislature has its ability to control how that life may proceed or how it would be terminated.”
“It’s unfortunate after weeks of lawmakers promising business would be their top priority and social issues wouldn’t be on the front burner that within hours of gaveling in we see two anti-abortion bills that seem to be on the fast track,” said Amber Duke, communications director for the ACLU of Kentucky.
The bill does make some provisions in the case of rape or the health of the mother, but women’s rights advocates say that this could still put women in danger. Around 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks, “but when they are needed later in pregnancy, it’s often in very complex circumstances — the kind of situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available,” according to Planned Parenthood.
“Legislation about bans like this pose a serious threat because they ignore women’s health needs in individual circumstances,” Duke said. “We believe that women deserve dignity and should have the right to make personal and private medical decisions without interference from politicians.”
Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover claims that there is “overwhelming sentiment” within Kentucky to support the 20-week ban. Given the predominantly-evangelical population, this likely is not far from the truth.
Despite Christian dominance of Kentucky, the percentage of sexually active Kentucky teenagers in 2011 was 52%, just slightly higher than the national average of 47%. The average of 43.5 Kentucky teenagers who gave birth in 2011 is much higher than the national average of 31.3. Only 51% of Kentucky teens used birth control compared to the national average of 60%.
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW