LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the fourth time in more than 20 years, a Republican lawmaker is proposing to amend the Kentucky Constitution to make clear the state's citizens have no right to an abortion.
The bill by state Rep. Joseph Fischer of Fort Thomas is one of a handful of bills Republicans have proposed to limit abortion access, even as Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, does his part to widen it. On Tuesday, the Courier Journal reported the Beshear administration will allow Planned Parenthood to apply for a license to provide abortions at its Louisville clinic. EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville is currently the only licensed abortion provider in Kentucky.
Co-sponsored by nearly 20 other Republicans, Fischer's House Bill 67 would constitutionally enshrine that Kentuckians have no right to obtain or pay for an abortion.
"Right now in our state, there is no constitutional right to an abortion. This simply confirms that and puts the issue of regulating abortion to the Legislature, not the court," Fischer said Tuesday.
The proposed amendment states: "To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to an abortion or require the funding of abortion."
In Kentucky, voters get the ultimate say when it comes to altering the state constitution. If the bill is approved by the Republican-led General Assembly, the amendment would then be put to a statewide referendum in November. This question has never appeared on a ballot before in Kentucky, nor has any other abortion-related question, according to the Legislative Research Commission.
West Virginia passed a similar constitutional ban last year with virtually identical language. Louisiana voters will decide in November whether to do the same.
Though there are still fewer anti-abortion rights proposals than last year's half dozen, the groundswell of support for them is stronger, said House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect.
"I think clearly we've probably been the most pro-life legislature, certainly in a long time, if not ever," he said. Though House Republicans have declared their top priorities this session to be public assistance reform and combating human trafficking, Osborne said there's still a lot of caucus support for anti-abortion legislation.
This bill marks the fourth attempt by Fisher since 1998 to pass such an amendment, LRC records show: HB 251 in 2007, HB 549 in 2010 and HB 473 in 2018. Each time, the bill never received a committee hearing and had very few sponsors.