A controversial state lawmaker has filed a bill that would make it a felony to perform an abortion in Kentucky. The legislation is likely unconstitutional.
Rep. Dan Johnson, a Republican from Mt. Washington, pre-filed the Abolition of Abortion in Kentucky Act for the upcoming legislative session.
The proposal would forbid all abortions from the “fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum” until birth.
Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues manager with the abortion rights group Guttmacher Institute, said that states aren’t legally allowed to ban abortions because of protections under the U.S. Constitution.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has said that a state may place restrictions on abortion before viability, but the state cannot ban abortion before viability,” Nash said.
“The state can place more restrictions on abortion after viability but after viability, a woman must still be able to access abortion if her life or health is at risk.”
Rep. Johnson has not responded to requests for comment.
The legislation deletes language that permits abortions if they are performed at the direction of a health care provider with the consent of a pregnant woman.
The proposal leaves in place language that allows abortions in cases of medical emergency or necessity.
Those who perform abortions could be charged with fetal homicide — a felony that can be charged as a capital offense but isn’t eligible for the death penalty.
This year, Gov. Matt Bevin signed two anti-abortion laws — one forbids abortions during or after the 20th week of pregnancy, the other requires doctors to conduct ultrasounds on women seeking abortions and narrate a description of the fetus and fetal heartbeat.
The ultrasound requirement has been challenged in federal court.
Rep. Johnson is a preacher from Bullitt County, just south of Louisville. He made headlines during his successful race for the seat last year after posting several offensive images on Facebook, including one that depicted President Barack Obama as a monkey.
He refused to apologize and was disavowed by the state Republican Party and soon-to-be House Speaker Jeff Hoover.
After the election, Hoover said that Johnson would be “welcome in our caucus.”