Politics

A bill that would totally ban abortions in Kentucky if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 ruling that legalized the procedure passed out of the Kentucky House of Representatives on Friday.

The measure passed out of the House with a vote of 69-20 and now heads to the state Senate, which advanced another restrictive abortion measure earlier this week.

Rep. Joe Fischer, a Republican from Ft. Thomas and sponsor of House Bill 148, said the measure would serve as a message from the people of Kentucky to the Supreme Court and every other state.

“The message is this: if you allow us to protect life, we will protect all unborn life.”

The legislation would make it a Class D felony for anyone to perform the abortion procedure or prescribe drugs that terminate a pregnancy.

But it would only go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that forbade states from limiting abortions before the point of viability — the point at which a fetus can survive outside of the womb, around the 24th week of pregnancy.

Rep. Joni Jenkins, a Democrat from Louisville, said that a ban on abortion would only lead women to seek the procedure illegally.

“We know that it doesn’t make abortions decrease, it just makes them very, very dangerous,” Jenkins said.

All Republicans who voted on the measure were in favor of it. There were 16 Democrats who also voted for it, including gubernatorial candidate Rocky Adkins. But eight Republicans and three Democrats were either absent or abstained.

Anti-abortion advocates hope a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court can overturn the Roe v. Wade decision and are pushing for measures to undercut the ruling in legislatures across the country.

The House’s passage of the bill comes days after the Senate passed a measure that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at about the 6th week of pregnancy.

When explaining his vote in favor of that measure, Senate President Stivers argued that despite the Roe v. Wade decision, the right to an abortion “is not something that is in the black letter of the constitution.”

“Who sits on the Supreme Court determines what’s constitutional or not,” Stivers said.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.