In Kentucky, Republicans Lay Groundwork to End Legal Abortion: Spotlight on the States (Updated)

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In Kentucky, Republicans Lay Groundwork to End Legal Abortion: Spotlight on the States (Updated)

Dennis Carter

Republican state lawmakers are paving the way to outlaw abortion care if the Supreme Court guts Roe v. Wade.

UPDATE, March 10, 2020, 5:09 p.m.: Kentucky’s house on Tuesday passed HB 67, which would prevent the state constitution from protecting abortion rights.

Every week, Rewire.News highlights trends in abortion-related legislation moving through the states, and how those bills might affect abortion access. This week, we look at proposed amendments in Kentucky and Iowa meant to outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and a forced parental consent law passed in Florida. 

Kentucky

Republicans in the Kentucky House are rushing to advance a bill that seeks to amend the state constitution to ensure that Kentuckians have no right to abortion care—a push many states with Republican-majority legislatures are taking this year.

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This is the fourth time Rep. Joseph Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) has introduced the anti-choice proposal, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, but it’s the first time the bill has received a committee hearing. If both chambers of Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature pass the bill, the constitutional amendment will appear before voters as a referendum in November. Like anti-choice lawmakers in other states, Fischer hopes that amending the state constitution will clear the way for outlawing abortion if conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court strike down Roe v. Wade.

The bill, HB 67, passed a house committee in a party-line vote last Thursday. Democrats on the committee criticized their Republican colleagues for rushing a vote on the legislation after lawmakers had spent hours beforehand discussing an unrelated bill, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. “There is no reason to rush this through. These are very important life-threatening decisions that we’re making here,” said House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins (D-Shively).

Iowa 

There’s more anti-choice constitutional amendment news, with Iowa Republicans’ moving forward with their attempt to change the state constitution so that it does not protect the right to abortion care.

After Republicans in the Iowa Senate passed an amendment resolution on February 13, the proposal has moved to the state house for a full vote. The house will hold a public hearing for its version of the resolution on Tuesday evening.

If the measure passes the Republican-held house, it will have to pass the state legislature again in 2021 or 2022 before it can be brought to voters, the Associated Press reported. The constitutional amendment is in response to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling in favor of abortion rights—one that infuriated Republican lawmakers and anti-choice activists.

Florida 

Florida’s Republican-held house passed a forced parental consent bill on Thursday, with four Democrats voting in favor, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The legislation now goes to anti-choice Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

The law is intended to allow a newly conservative Florida Supreme Court to limit the state’s constitutional right to privacy by overturning a 1989 ruling that struck down a similar forced consent law. Reproductive rights advocates fear that by eliminating judicial roadblocks to abortion restrictions, a court decision in favor of the parental consent bill would create a path for other anti-choice measures to take effect.

House Democrats did not take a caucus position on the forced parental consent bill.

Dian Alarcon, a field organizer for Florida Latina Advocacy Network, said the forced consent law could have an outsized impact on Miami’s large immigrant community, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Undocumented parents, Alarcon said, can’t obtain a state ID to give consent to their children who want abortion care.