'Mayors should not decide what laws they do enforce,' Lexington Mayoral candidates discuss state abortion bans

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 19:15:42-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton instructed the city's legal department to look into issues around the city’s enforcement of Kentucky's abortion bans.

"I am going to listen to my law department to see what they have to say on all of this," Gorton told LEX 18.

At the Urban City Council work session on Thursday, Gorton explained that she has been frequently asked about enforcement. She also explained that as a long-time registered nurse, she believes medical decisions should be between a doctor and a patient.

"I have personally seen and worked with many patients having to make difficult life-altering decisions," said Gorton. "That includes patients suffering intractable pain, people with wounds that would not heal, patients with suicidal thoughts, babies with seizures, and pregnant women with life-threatening health issues. All of these patients were managed within the confidential arena of relationships between health care providers and patients."

"Women and their healthcare providers are where these decisions are made," Gorton emphasized to LEX 18.

However, Gorton stressed that she cannot allow her personal beliefs to dictate which laws are enforced.

"Mayors should not decide what laws they do enforce and what laws they don't enforce," said Gorton. "That's a slippery slope."

"We left King George almost 250 years ago because he determined what laws would be and what laws would not be," added Gorton. "And I think it's very dangerous for elected officials to determine on their own, based on their beliefs, what laws they're going to enforce and what laws they're not going to enforce."

So, Gorton emphasized that her hands are tied in this situation.

However, Council Member David Kloiber, who is running against Gorton for mayor, believes Gorton can and should take action.

"The mayor has the power to instruct our law enforcement," said Kloiber.

"We've already researched, as a city, whether or not we can instruct our law enforcement not to prosecute for a crime. It was investigated when we looked into not prosecuting people for having possession of marijuana," he added. "We know what we can do there. And what we can apply to this situation right now."

Kloiber believes law enforcement shouldn't waste valuable resources enforcing the abortion ban.

"We should not be using our resources - that are better used on the streets, protecting us, making sure we reduce violent crime - to investigate these kinds of issues," said Kloiber.

"We need a leader who will stand for the people in this time of uncertainty," he added. "We can do better."