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Kentucky lawmakers advance 15-week abortion ban bill

Supporters say the law would ensure unborn children are protected, and would mirror a Mississippi law currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky lawmakers advanced a bill that would restrict abortions in the commonwealth Thursday.

Senate Bill 321 would reduce the length of time a woman has to get an abortion by at least five weeks. Current law allows abortions up to 20 weeks.

The only exception for abortion beyond 15 weeks would be if a woman is at risk of dying or could be seriously injured if the pregnancy continues.

If approved, the bill would allow the attorney general to take action to make sure the law is being enforced.

The state could also take away a doctor’s medical license if the board determines a physician violated the law.

Those supporting the legislation said this law would ensure unborn children are protected and would mirror a Mississippi law currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We believe each and every baby in the womb is unique, created in the image of God, worthy of full protection of law,” David Wells, executive director of The Family Foundation, said. 

Wells said this bill is another way Kentucky can ensure its status as a pro-life state and can be "well-positioned whichever way the Supreme Court decides.”

RELATED: Activists call out new bills regulating medication abortions in Kentucky during Louisville rally

Although at the Senate committee hearing on Thursday, the bill was met with a lot of opposition by Kentuckians saying they don't want legislation further restricting abortions in the Commonwealth.

Shauntrice Martin drove to Frankfort from Louisville and spoke at the committee hearing saying she got an abortion in college. 

Martin worries passing this law will hurt women living in poverty.

“It is not always possible for someone to get an abortion as soon as they made the decision to do so,” she said. “Many things can stand in the way; from delays in finding out you’re pregnant, to not being able to afford it, to a lack of providers nearby or barriers put in place by politicians such as bans on insurance covering abortion and mandatory delays.”

Many also say this law isn’t needed because, in 2018, Kentucky passed another law banning a second-trimester abortion procedure. That law, in effect, banned elective abortions after a woman’s 14th week of pregnancy.

A federal court found that law unconstitutional, but Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he plans to appeal that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed last week that Cameron has the power to do that.

This bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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