Kentucky Lawmakers Advance Legislation to Protect the Unborn After 15 Weeks Gestation

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Another state is weighing in on abortion law ahead of the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, with Kentucky the latest to advance legislation to protect the unborn by prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks gestation.

Senate Bill 321 is modeled after the Mississippi law under review by the high court. It now advances to the state’s House.

The Associated Press (AP) reported on the development:

By taking preemptive action, Kentucky’s stricter ban would “withstand challenge and be immediately enforceable” if the Mississippi law were to be upheld, said Republican Sen. Max Wise, the bill’s lead sponsor. 

Kentucky law currently bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Two states have enacted 15-week abortion bans — Mississippi and Louisiana, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The Louisiana law hasn’t taken effect pending the outcome of the legal fight over the Mississippi law, the group said. Florida lawmakers recently passed a 15-week abortion ban. The governor there previously signaled his support for the proposal and is expected to sign it into law. 

Democrats, who are a minority in the state legislature, oppose the legislation and hope the abortion-on-demand ruling in Roe v. Wade will be upheld.

“We don’t know what the Supreme Court will decide,” Democratic Sen. Reginald Thomas. “And if we pass this legislation and the Supreme Court decides to affirm the 50-year-old principles of Roe v. Wade, then this bill will otherwise be held unconstitutional. 

“So I think it would be better just to wait to see what the Supreme Court does, and then each state can act accordingly,” Thomas said,

AP reported the lawmakers are also considering a bill passed recently in the House that seeks to regulate medical abortion by requiring women to be examined by a doctor.

About have of abortions in the state are from medical abortions, or taking a pill that induces labor, according to AP.

It is not clear if Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear would sign such a bill but in the past he has vetoed Republicans efforts to limit abortion, including legislation that would have given Attorney General Daniel Cameron the authority to ban abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic and would have also provided protection to infants who survive a botched abortion.

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