Ky. leaders, lawmakers react to Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision

Kentucky is one of 13 states to pass a trigger law, meaning as of this moment, abortion is now banned in the commonwealth.
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 11:24 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - In a historic decision, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years.

What does this mean for Kentucky?

Kentucky is one of 13 states to pass a trigger law, meaning as of this moment, abortion is now banned in the commonwealth. The trigger law was signed by Governor Matt Bevin in 2019.

“Currently over a dozen states have statutes like Kentucky’s that took effect upon Roe’s fall, and will protect more babies than ever before,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron said.

Cameron said on Friday the ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade is a reflection that the court recognizes laws should reflect values, adding Kentucky’s value has been to preserve life.

“All of us are at this point, is a testament to the perseverance of the pro-life movement,” Cameron said.

Governor Andy Beshear calls the trigger law “extremist,” saying it takes away options for victims of rape and incest.

“That is wrong. As the former top prosecutor in this state, I saw those cases. I talked to those victims. They deserve options,” Gov. Beshear said.

The governor went on to say he hopes the General Assembly will keep these victims in mind as they consider future legislation.

“I think we have to be pretty clear with people about what this does. The state legislature and the trigger law they passed were pretty clear,” Beshear said.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron held a press conference Friday following the decision:

Reactions have been coming in all day from Kentucky leaders on both sides of this issue:

Auditor Mike Harmon released this statement:

“As Kentucky’s 47th Auditor of Public Accounts, the oath that I took for this office was to uphold the U.S. and Commonwealth’s constitutions and be ‘…faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.’ I believe that oath includes supporting and upholding the law of the land in our nation and our Commonwealth.

Long before I became Kentucky’s Auditor, I have been an advocate for the sanctity of life. During my 13 years in the Kentucky House, I was a proud member of the pro-life caucus and worked many years alongside other legislators in sponsoring legislation to put an end to abortion.

Today’s decision in the Dobbs case reaffirms the work of myself and other current and former state legislators, establishing Kentucky as a place where all life, both born and unborn, is protected.”

Secretary of State Michael Adams:

“Today, the Supreme Court returned the right of self-government to the States and to the People, as contemplated by the Constitution. In Kentucky this fall, our people will have the opportunity to express their view on this issue, via Constitutional Amendment Two.

The Court’s decision follows a half-century of hard and diligent work by people of faith, elected officials, attorneys, and activists. As abortion will remain legal in many states, including at least one of our neighboring states, that hard and diligent work must continue, in a different form: ensuring adequate support – financial and emotional – of those facing this difficult choice.”

State treasurer Allison Ball:

As a mother of two, a dedicated supporter of pregnancy centers across our Commonwealth, and a Pro-Life elected official, I am grateful that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

For those of us who rejoice in the chance to protect life, this is our opportunity to provide real support to mothers, children, and families. We must rally around them and ensure that every life has a chance to fulfill his or her potential. As a state and nation, we must view this historic moment as an opportunity to become a better America that helps families through effective and supportive policies, systems, and institutions. I am hopeful that we can use this moment in history to grow in character, in compassion, and in love, so we can emerge a better people, for ourselves, our children, and the generations saved by this change.

Kentucky Democratic Party:

“For years, Republican politicians have pushed cruel, extreme restrictions on a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, with no exceptions even for victims of rape and incest. Today, with Roe’s downfall, abortion is now illegal in Kentucky. This extreme ban rips away choice from those who already had the fewest options to begin with, or even none at all, including victims of violent crime. To the women of our Commonwealth who, with the news today, are outraged and worried, know you are seen, you are heard, you are loved. While the court has rolled back rights that have been yours for almost 50 years, we will not stop fighting. Make no mistake: they won’t stop with abortion. As a black man, as the father of a woman, as the brother of a gay man, I’ve never been in more fear for our future. This dangerous ruling lays the groundwork to dismantle our basic rights across the board. The extremists are already aiming at birth control and the rights that protect marginalized communities including women, communities of color and LGBTQ Americans are at risk. Kentucky is ground zero in this fight. We deserve leaders who will create more opportunities for every Kentuckian, not partisan politicians who will relentlessly work to suppress your most basic freedoms just to cater to extremists in their party. If you are angry, scared, or confused, now is the time to join us in the fight against a cruel and extreme Republican party that is more concerned with taking away rights than protecting Kentucky families.”

Republican Party of Kentucky:

“Today, the United States Supreme Court delivered a historic, pro-life decision, allowing the states and the people to enact laws protecting the lives of the unborn.

For a half century, unelected judges have dictated America’s abortion laws. The faulty constitutional reasoning in Roe was even criticized by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This decision returns the abortion issue back to the states and empowers the American people, including those in Kentucky. In fact, Kentuckians will have an opportunity this November to vote yes on constitutional amendment #2 to further cement our place as state for life.

As a post-Roe era begins, Republicans are committed to working to build a culture of life that embraces children, mothers, and families, and provides resources, support, and kindness to them all.”

Congressman Andy Barr’s statement:

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a historic victory for life. For nearly 50 years, advocates for life have worked tirelessly to reverse Roe v. Wade, the worst example of judicial activism in the history of the Court. Even former Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized the Court’s ruling in Roe.

“Last year, I signed an Amicus Brief requesting the Supreme Court uphold the Mississippi abortion law at issue in Dobbs. Regardless of one’s personal views on whether and under what circumstances there should be a ‘right to abortion,’ nowhere in the text of the federal Constitution is such a purported right stated or even implied, as the text was originally understood.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today affirmed that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and that the authority to regulate abortion belongs with the American people through the democratic process. By overturning Roe, the Court is empowering the American electorate to determine, through their elected representatives, what limits on abortion they want implemented in their state. The majority also follows in the footsteps of prior Justices who, in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, courageously and correctly overturned their own disgraceful precedent in Plessy v. Ferguson. I commend the Court for doing so.

“At the federal level, I will continue to support pro-life policies in Congress such as the Hyde Amendment, to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions, and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which requires medical care for babies born alive in botched abortions.”

Senate President Robert Stivers:

“The ruling today is a victory for the pro-life movement and advocates for states’ rights. The issue of abortion is best suited for state legislatures to address.”

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s office:

We have not assessed if there will be an impact on local government. Generally, we are talking about state and federal actions and laws.

Lexington City Councilmember David Kloiber:

“It is more important now than ever for our local leaders to take an active role in the fight to protect our rights at all levels of government.

Today’s decision limits essential, lifesaving health care for women and now unnecessarily puts politicians in charge of personal decisions best left up to a woman, her doctor, and her values.

Lexington needs leaders who will stand up for our marginalized communities that this will undoubtedly have a greater impact on. As Mayor, there is no circumstance in which I would take law enforcement away from protecting our streets to go after victims of crime.”

We’re working to further break down the impacts this will have in Kentucky, and more reaction from lawmakers.

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