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Ky. Lawmakers To Consider Ban On Abortions For Fetal Sex, Race, Disability

Nevit Dilmen, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Another abortion restriction has begun its journey through the Kentucky legislature. A state House panel approved a bill Wednesday that would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion if they feel that the patient is ending the pregnancy because of the fetus’ sex, race or disability.

Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, a Republican from Greenville and sponsor of the bill, argued that the measure addresses a human rights issue.

“Demanding the right to extinguish or eliminate the life of an unborn child because of their gender, race or possible physical or mental disability is reminiscent of the evil social philosophy of eugenics,” Gibbons Prunty said.

The measure would combine several controversial abortion restrictions that have passed out of other legislatures into one proposal.

Legislatures in North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana and Louisiana have all passed bills that would make it crime for doctors to perform abortions if they determine the patient is seeking the procedure because the fetus has Down syndrome.

Federal courts have permanently or temporarily struck down the policy in all of those states except North Dakota.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that monitors abortion legislation, eight states have bans on abortion if doctors determine a patient is seeking the procedure because of sex, race or disability, and one state has a ban based on the race of the fetus.

Critics of the measure say that it is designed to further restrict abortion in the state and that it doesn’t do anything to increase funding for social services.

Dr. Nicole Nolan, an OB-GYN at the University of Louisville, said that the bill would encourage patients to lie to their doctors.

“It does not educate patients and their families about having a child with a disability. It does not increase special education. It does not give funding to organizations that help disabled people or increase public accessibility for people with disability,” Nolan said.

Kentucky lawmakers are considering at least two other anti-abortion measures during this year’s legislative session — a ban on abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected and a total ban on the procedure if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion.


Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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