Kentucky lawmakers hope to save hundreds of unborn babies from abortion every year with a new bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks and the Kentucky state Senate this afternoon voted to advance the bill to 3rd reading, where it is expected to pass.
Senate Bill 321, sponsored by state Sen. Max Wise, R-Adair, is very similar to a Mississippi law that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering this spring. It would ban abortions on unborn babies after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk.
Wise said his bill would go into effect right away if the court upholds the Mississippi law. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in June.
Sen. Max Wise, R-Adair, said the Supreme Court’s acceptance of Mississippi’s appeal was interpreted as a willingness to revisit the landmark 1973 abortion rights case, “in part because Roe was based upon what is now outdated and erroneous understandings of the viability of an unborn child.”
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Senate Bill 321 would prohibit abortions to be performed on a woman if the probable gestational age of a fetus is 15 weeks or greater. Under current law, abortions cannot be performed in Kentucky after 20-weeks probable post-fertilization—or 22-weeks gestation.
“I’m bringing this bill to you so that in the event that the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi legislation as constitutional, we will have a pro-life law in place that would not be subject to a good faith legal challenge,” Wise said.
Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Anderson, referenced the Constitutional rights of life, liberty and property when explaining her vote.
“Right to life is not something that is subject to personal opinion. It’s not subject to government intrusion. It’s not subject to the medical profession. It is inherent by our Creator,” Southworth said.
There was no discussion on the bill, which passed 31-6.
The vote is important because it shows there is enough to overturn a likely veto from pro-abortion Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear.
Addia Wuchner, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life, praised the bill as progress “in protecting those who do not have a voice for themselves, and that’s Kentucky’s unborn children.
However, some Democrat lawmakers criticized the bill, claiming an abortion ban after 15 weeks would put women’s lives at risk.
State Sen. Karen Berg, D-Jefferson, accused pro-life lawmakers of “putting your finger, putting your knee, putting a gun to women’s heads. You are killing women. Because abortion will continue,” according to the report.
In response, state Sen. Stephen West, R-Bourbon, said babies in the womb deserve a chance at life.
“I always think if you’re going to err on the side of life or death, you always err on the side of life and giving these babies a chance to survive,” West said.
Most countries across the world prohibit or strictly limit abortions after 15 weeks. The United States is outside the mainstream, because, under Roe v. Wade, states are forced to legalize abortions up to viability and allowed to legalize abortions up to birth.
If the bill passes, Kentucky would save hundreds of unborn babies from abortions every year. According to state health department data, nearly 300 unborn babies were aborted after 15 weeks in 2020.
Kentucky is one of 26 states that likely would ban abortions completely if the Supreme Court allows states to do so, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
But some believe the Supreme Court may only limit abortions through the Mississippi case, still allowing unborn babies to be aborted in the first trimester but allowing states to ban them after 15 weeks.
As a result, Kentucky and other states have introduced 15-week abortion bans in the event that the Supreme Court does not completely overturn Roe. Florida passed a similar bill earlier this month.
Currently, states are prohibited from banning abortions before viability, about 22 weeks of pregnancy. Under Roe, states may allow unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason up to birth.
Since 1973, nearly 63.5 million unborn babies have died in supposedly “safe, legal” abortions.
ACTION ALERT: To support this bill, Contact Kentucky state senators.