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Roe v. Wade reversal will trigger KY abortion ban: Kentucky leaders share thoughts

DAMON THAYER.jpg
Posted at 6:10 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 07:02:45-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — If the Supreme Court of the United States reverses Roe v. Wade, abortion rights would no longer be constitutionally protected. Instead, they would be up to each individual state. And in Kentucky, that means an immediate ban on abortion.

In 2019, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a trigger law that requires the state to immediately stop abortion services if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade.

And it appears the Supreme Court may be ready to do that. On Monday night, Politico published a leaked opinion that overturns Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court confirmed the draft is authentic, but "it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member."

However, anti-abortion lawmakers in Kentucky hope the draft becomes final.

"Roe v. Wade's day are potentially numbered," said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer when asked about the draft during a press conference in Lexington.

He emphasized that he wants to reserve comment until the Court issues a final ruling, but he made it clear anti-abortion lawmakers are "all hopeful that what we read last night will become true."

Thayer said they passed the trigger law because the shift in the membership of the Supreme Court gave them hope Roe v. Wade would be overturned.

"We have a populous here in the Commonwealth that is very conservative and very pro-life, and we wanted to be proactive, not reactive," said Thayer.

That "proactive" step will mean quick action in Kentucky if the Supreme Court's draft becomes final. And that's something abortion rights supporters fear.

"The court is prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion — and meanwhile, anti-abortion groups and politicians are gearing up for a nationwide ban," tweeted Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, a group that represents Kentucky.

"We're angry and we're fighting back, the tweet continued.

When asked about the draft opinion, Governor Andy Beshear expressed concern for what it would mean for women and girls in Kentucky.

"Those that are victims of rape or incest - even the youngest of Kentuckians - will have no options," said Beshear. "Being a former prosecutor, who fought for justice for those individuals, [I believe] they should have those options."

What happens if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade and Kentucky's ban goes into effect? People wanting to get an abortion will need to travel out of state to find access to one. And they likely won't find it in five of Kentucky's seven neighboring states. Virginia and Illinois would be Kentucky's only neighbors that will continue to allow mostly unrestricted abortion services.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, anti-abortion lawmakers say they're ready to take further action to restrict abortion.

"We're ready to meet and we are ready to create some of the toughest laws that there are," said Sen. Donald Douglas.