Activists renew push to repeal Kentucky’s near-total abortion ban

Abortion rights supporters mounted another push Wednesday to restore abortion access in Kentucky, but the Democratic lawmaker sponsoring the legislation acknowledged the odds are overwhelmingly against them in the Republican-dominated legislature.

A near-total abortion ban has been in place in Kentucky since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. The so-called trigger law banned abortions except when carried out to save the mother’s life. It does not include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

The bill unveiled Wednesday by Democratic Rep. Lindsey Burke would roll back Kentucky’s abortion laws to the time before Republicans claimed majority status in the House after the 2016 election. Since then, GOP lawmakers who dominate the legislature have passed a series of bills putting more restrictions on abortion, culminating in the near-total ban under the trigger law — which passed in 2019 and took effect when Roe v. Wade was struck down.

Republican supermajorities in Kentucky’s legislature skipped over the abortion issue last year and so far have not taken up abortion-related measures in this year’s Session, which continues until mid-April.

“I think the truth is that there’s very little appetite for change, at least among the supermajority,” Burke acknowledged at a news conference Wednesday.

But she predicted that grassroots activism to restore abortion access would eventually pay dividends. Activists point to the outcome of a statewide vote in 2022 when Kentuckians rejected a ballot measure backed by GOP lawmakers that would have denied any constitutional protections for abortion

“The more these groups get mobilized, the more they speak to their lawmakers, I think we will get to a place where action will be required,” Burke said. “And I will look forward to that day.”

Abortion opponents gathered for a recent rally at Kentucky’s Capitol, where they “stood together as one voice, united in love for every precious life,” said Addia Wuchner, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life.

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