By Eric Matthews —
U of L’s Students for Reproductive Freedom are gearing up for a fight in response to a pair of anti-abortion laws passed in Frankfort last week.
The state legislature passed two anti-abortion laws on Jan. 9, and a third is still in committee. HB2 requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound prior to the procedure and display or describe the images to the patient, along with audio of the fetal heartbeat. SB5 prohibits abortions at or past the twentieth week of pregnancy. The law makes exceptions for life-threatening complications, but not for instances of rape or incest. SB8, which has not yet been passed, bars providers of abortion services from receiving public funds. The bill’s definition of “abortion services” includes providing referrals and information as well as the procedure itself.
When Kentucky Republicans gained a supermajority in last November’s election, passing anti-abortion legislation was announced as a top priority. Their sheer numbers allowed these bills to become law at breakneck speed: Gov. Matt Bevin signed HB2 and SB5 into law just six days after they were first introduced. The laws carry emergency clauses, which put them into effect immediately.
SRF members see the legislators as apathetic toward those affected negatively by the measures.
“When white, cis (cisgender), able-bodied, male senators listened to heart-wrenching stories from people who have needed abortion services in the past, and will be seeking abortion services in the future, they (senators) chuckled, rolled their eyes and otherwise paid these individuals serious disrespect as they were sharing their stories,” SRF member Jared McNeil said.
The ACLU has filed suit to block HB2 on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and violates medical ethics.
Attorney General Andy Beshear has pledged to defend this bill, but not SB5 because he says identical laws passed elsewhere have already been ruled unconstitutional. No challenges to that law have been filed yet.
SRF President Madeline McCubbins says the group is preparing to step up its efforts in fighting these measures.
“It is clear to us that our past approaches of writing to our legislators and visiting the Capitol to meet with them in person are not moving us closer to the radical change our members wish to see,” said McCubbins. “Therefore, you can expect us to be more radical and disruptive in our approaches to achieving reproductive freedom for all.”
Information about the group can be found on their Facebook page, @SRFUofL.
EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Lexington will be closing its doors Jan. 27. The closure will leave only one abortion service provider in Kentucky.