Republican State Representative Dan Johnson (District 49) just pre-filed legislation for the upcoming session that would not only outlaw all forms of abortion throughout the state, but could also make miscarriage a felony offense.

Called the “Abolition of Abortion in Kentucky Act,” BR 143 would have the state legislature

“redefine ‘abortion,’ ‘unborn child’ and define ‘fertilization’; amend the definition of unborn child; require prosecution for the death of an unborn child without limitation and not withstanding any other state law regardless of the identity of the actor.”

Since Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, the bill—even if passed and signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin—would more than likely be overturned for its unconstitutional nature. But the legislation goes much further than simply outlawing abortion; it seeks to punish women for biological functions outside their control.

According to the most current version of the legislation, the redefinition of the aforementioned three words/phrases and a change in the way Kentucky enforces abortion law could make criminals of any woman who miscarries. To wit, Johnson offers these definitions:

“Abortion” means the use of any means whatsoever to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with the intent to cause the death of the unborn child.

“Fertilization” means the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.

“Unborn child” means a human being from fertilization until live birth without regard to age, health, or condition of dependency.

Pair that with the language of the bill in how the Attorney General’s office will be tasked with enforcing the law:

In a prosecution for the death of an unborn child, this chapter shall apply without limitation and notwithstanding KRS 311.720 to 311.820, KRS 16 Chapter 216B relating to abortion facilities, or any other provisions of the law relating to an abortion, regardless of the identity of the actor.

To understand how medically unsound and draconian this legislation would be if enacted, consider this: Up to one half of all fertilized eggs fail to implant into the uterine wall following fertilization. Every woman with a zygote that doesn’t implant would technically be in violation of Johnson’s abortion law.

In addition, certain forms of birth control prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the walls of the womb. This legislation would outlaw all those forms of birth control.

While the legislation doesn’t remove the ability for women to obtain medically necessary abortions, it does eliminate all language allowing abortion by health care providers following a woman’s consent.

This bill follows two other anti-abortion bills signed into law during the last legislative session: one banning all abortions during and after the 20th week of pregnancy, and the other requiring women undergo an invasive ultrasound inclusive of medical narration before being able to obtain an abortion. A federal court struck down the latter requirement at the end of September.


(Thoughts? Comments? The comment section is at the bottom of the page. Add yours!)

Tim Peacock
Tim Peacock is a lifelong writer and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBTQ advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. He also manages a news analysis blog (Peacock Panache) that focuses on civil rights, LGBTQ issues, church/state & atheism issues, women’s rights, and politics. You can learn more about him at his personal website:
  • This is just the type of news that makes Kentucky look like the backward state that it can be, at its worst. How about prosecuting the men who got the women pregnant before the miscarriage? They had a part in it, too.

  • Dan Johnson is the same racist beefhead who showed President Obama and his family depicted as apes on his church’s website. He calls it funny. He does not understand why people are upset. His “respect for life” does not expend to respecting people of color. Time to throw his Fundamentalist butt out of Frankfort.

    • That’s who I thought he was. His off-the-wall rantings weren’t enough to keep Bullitt County from sending him to Frankfort.