The General Assembly has lost its mind over abortion

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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Abortion.

Just say the word, and people are ready to fight. It’s one of the most emotion-laden issues to confront our body politic. I get that.

But even given the emotions around it, why has the General Assembly lost its mind over this issue?

I’m speaking, specifically, of SB 9, the fetal heartbeat bill. The one that says that any abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected is not only a crime, but a felony. And since a fetal heartbeat can be detected at about six weeks, and many women don’t know for sure they are pregnant until after that time, this bill ends the option of abortion for a large number of women in our state.

That’s bad enough. Whatever you may think of abortion, playing “gotcha” with the women of our state is a game unworthy of most of our legislators. (Not all; some are obvious misogynists, for whom abortion is a tried-and-true pandering tool.)

But there’s even more wrong with this bill (as if it’s not bad enough already).

It doesn’t contain an exception for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.

You read that right – no matter what the circumstances, if your pregnancy is past six weeks, you’re carrying that pregnancy to term, with no other choices.

So here’s the nightmare scenario. You’re thirteen years old and your father comes in and rapes you. You miss your next period, but that’s not unusual; your periods are still inconsistent. Then you miss another period, and you get worried. So, you convince your mother to take you to her OB-GYN, who confirms your worst fears: you are pregnant by your father. And, since it’s past the six-week window, you have no choice but to carry the pregnancy to term.

Congratulations. Because of the General Assembly of Kentucky, you are now a mother at 14, and you don’t have a choice in the matter.

Or, let’s play a different scenario, if that one seems too “out there” to you. Let’s suppose that you are 30 and married, and expecting your first child. Then, in the second trimester, you learn that the baby you are carrying has a significant health problem, and will probably be born blind and deaf.

For most couples, this agonizing news would be followed by an agonizing choice: do we bring this life into the world, knowing what the child would be facing? And what happens to this person after we are gone? Is it fair to want a child so much that we carry on, regardless of the life that child will have?

If you are working through these questions in your own mind, and coming up with what your answer would be, then good for you; you realize how difficult this decision must be.

But if you live in Kentucky, you can’t have that discussion, or wrestle with those questions … because the General Assembly has done your thinking for you. Second trimester? You carry that baby to term, or face criminal charges.

There are people who want to eliminate all abortion; I get that. But this bill is not an anti-abortion bill. It is a mean, anti-woman, anti-common-sense bill. It will put women across this state in untenable positions, and will drive them to illegal and underground abortion providers.

This bill is the work of people who have lost their collective minds over abortion. It is time that they regain some sense, and pull this bill.

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