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Monday marks 2 years since near-total abortion ban went into effect in Kentucky

Abortion Kentucky
Posted at 5:12 PM, Jun 24, 2024

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Two years ago today, abortion - in most cases - became illegal in Kentucky. The state's trigger ban went into place as soon as Roe v Wade fell. Kentucky's near-total abortion ban offers only one exception: to save the pregnant woman's life.

The limitations are too extreme, say doctors who are fighting back against the ban.

"I have been forced to sit by and wait until someone becomes sick enough to intervene with basic, necessary care because of these laws," said Dr. Alecia Fields, an OBGYN practicing in Kentucky.

“As a doctor, I have been faced with decisions that I never thought possible," Dr. Fields added. "Decisions that are not based on good medicine, but are driven by state law."

On Monday, advocates and medical professionals gathered in Lexington to launch a new statewide campaign. Their goal is to raise awareness about the "dire consequences of Kentucky’s restrictive abortion ban."

The Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund is leading the campaign.

“Kentucky’s cruel abortion ban isn’t just forcing countless women to flee the state to get legal and safe abortion care. It's also driving away the next generation of doctors, nurses, and medical students who are unwilling to live and work in a state that puts them and their patients at risk,” said Ona Marshall, the founder the Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund. “This campaign sends a clear message to our elected officials: Kentuckians are tired of lawmakers interfering in our private medical decisions.”

The group says a recent survey of medical students at the three medical schools in Kentucky, has found the majority of medical students are unlikely to train or practice in Kentucky due to the state’s anti-abortion policies.

According to the Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund, the survey, which was conducted by medical students at the University of Louisville, found:

  • 85.6% of respondents do not agree with the state's anti-abortion policies
  • 87.5% believe these policies negatively impact public health
  • 85.6% feel that the policies do not reflect their personal values
  • 86.7% are concerned about the potential impact of abortion bans on patient confidentiality and doctor-patient trust
  • 73.3% would consider seeking medical training in a different state due to Kentucky's policies

“The restrictions on evidence-based medicine and basic freedoms in Kentucky are not just policies, they are barriers that prevent us from becoming the doctors our communities need,” said Shriya Dodwani, a medical student at University of Louisville. “We should not have to choose between receiving adequate training and staying in our home state.”
"Think about the future of healthcare in Kentucky," she added. "Think about the patients who will suffer if we, the next generation of doctors, are forced to leave."

“When doctors, residents, and medical students avoid practicing in Kentucky, it widens the healthcare gap between urban and rural areas. Rural communities, already struggling with limited health care services, are hit the hardest,” said Dr. Janet Wygal, a board-certified OBGYN. “In a state that I love, have raised my family, and dedicated my medical career to, I am so deeply distressed that children and women must flee the state for essential health care.”