Kentucky Enacts ‘Born Alive’ Bill, Based on Fear-Mongering Lie About Abortion

SB 9 will make an already difficult situation even more difficult for pregnant people in Kentucky during a particularly painful time.

[PHOTO: Gov. Andy Beshear stands behind a podium]
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear had the power to veto the "Born Alive" bill enacted by the state's Republican-controlled legislature. But he let it go into effect—on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, no less. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Terrible news, everyone.

SB 9—the “Born Alive” bill enacted by the Republican-controlled legislature in Kentucky—is now law because Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear failed to veto it. That’s good news for forced birthers in Kentucky—not so much for pregnant people.

The bill sat on Beshear’s desk for a period of ten days, during which he could have vetoed it. But he didn’t. Instead, he just let it go into effect. And the cherry on top of the shit sundae? It happened on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling that made abortion a Constitutional right.

So what exactly is the Born Alive law? It is a fear-mongering and myth-making law based on the lie that abortion providers are somehow aborting newborns with regularity. (Aborting a newborn is called murder or infanticide where I’m from.)

It is utter propaganda as well as a blatant attempt for Republican legislators to control how and when physicians provide care, as Calla Hales previously wrote for Rewire News Group:

These bills are worded very intentionally, with the aim to further the false narrative that abortions regularly occur immediately before or, according to [Trump], at the time of birth. While it should be apparent, it is still necessary to point out that any intentional action to end the life of an infant is already illegal.

Kentucky’s SB 9 requires a physician performing an abortion to take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a “born alive” infant.


So let’s count the ways Kentucky’s “Born Alive” law is horseshit.

  1. Legal abortion care does not involve murder or infanticide. Duh.
  2. Murder and infanticide *are already crimes* so why do we need a law reiterating that you shouldn’t be murdering infants.
  3. “Born alive” is nonsense terminology because—wait for it—if you’re “born alive” it means you’ve been “born.” BORN ALIVE DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING.
  4. Doctors are already required to care for babies that are born. This is common sense.

But critically, these laws are cruel: While a healthy fetus can survive outside the womb after 24 weeks, abortions this late in pregnancy are incredibly rare and often involve heartbreaking circumstances like fetal anomalies or the pregnant person’s life being at risk.

In cases where a newborn doesn’t have a chance of surviving for very long outside of the womb, abortion providers provide compassionate end-of-life care for newborns according to what the patient wants.

Some people opt to let the baby die naturally. Others opt to try to resuscitate it. Others opt to provide some sort of palliative comfort care: to wrap their newborn, cuddle it, swaddle it, and just have a few moments with the baby before it dies. This is a decision that must be made between the physician and the patient.

These laws do nothing to protect “born alive” newborns. What they do is strip rights away from pregnant people to, for example, sign a Do Not Resuscitate order to limit their newborn infant’s distress. Republicans in Kentucky want to interfere with a patient’s decision regarding end-of-life-care for their newborn.

So not only are “Born Alive” laws based on junk science and scare tactics, they make an already difficult situation even more difficult for pregnant people during a particularly painful time. These laws are cruel and unnecessary.

And the Kentucky law is, of course, not the first of its kind—anti-choicers are not the most creative people. We’ve had our eyes on “Born Alive” legislation for a few years now, including on the federal level.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.