Kentucky House Passes Constitutional Amendment Specifying There's No Right to Abortion

Second bill expands AG's power to regulate abortion facilities

(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
March 12, 2020

The Kentucky House of Representatives passed two pro-life bills, including legislation that seeks to amend the state constitution to specify that it provides no legal right to an abortion.

"To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion," the amendment proposed in the bill states. The bill received bipartisan support, passing in a 71-21 vote on Tuesday.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Fischer (R.), said it would "end the slaughter of unborn children in Kentucky," according to the Courier Journal.

The amendment still faces a vote in the state senate, after which it would be put to a referendum from Kentucky voters if it receives support from three-fifths of the senate. The referendum would occur in the fall.

Democratic lawmakers criticized the amendment for being "arrogant" and "patronizing," and they said it would worsen economic disparities for low-income women. They also criticized the amendment for not including exceptions for incest, rape, or health of the mother.

The chamber also passed a second bill expanding the state attorney general's ability to regulate abortion facilities. The bill allows the attorney general to pursue civil or criminal penalties if an abortion facility fails to meet regulatory requirements.

The issue of abortion was at the forefront of Kentucky's gubernatorial election in 2019. Pro-choice Democrat Andy Beshear narrowly defeated Republican Matt Bevin and criticized Bevin for being too extreme on abortion.

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, said Kentucky residents should have an opportunity to decide whether the amendment would go into effect.

"The citizens of Kentucky, who elected Daniel Cameron as their strong pro-life attorney general, deserve the chance to make their voices heard on life directly at the ballot box," Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told the Free Beacon.