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Ky. Republicans advance bill mirroring Mississippi abortion law

Senator Max Wise of Kentucky
Timothy D. Easley
In Sept. 7, 2021, Kentucky Sen. Max Wise listens during the opening day of the Kentucky State Legislature special session in Frankfort, Ky.

Kentucky Republican lawmakers have advanced a ban on abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, adding to a long list of restrictions passed into law over the last five years.

Supporters hope the measure will further restrict access to abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns or revises Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed access to the procedure up to the point in which a fetus can survive outside the womb—generally considered to be after the 24th week of pregnancy.

Senate Bill 321 mimics a blocked Mississippi law currently hanging in the balance of the Supreme Court. Depending on the outcome of that case, legal watchers believe a more conservative version of the high court is poised to significantly curtail abortion rights.

Sen. Max Wise, a Republican from Campbellsville and sponsor of the bill, said it’s intended to quickly restrict abortions in the state if the court upholds the Mississippi law.

“I’m bringing this bill to you so that in the event the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi legislation as constitutional, we will have a pro-life law in place that would not be subject to a good faith legal challenge,” Wise said.

The bill includes no exemptions for complicated pregnancies or cases or rape or incest. It passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a vote of 8-2 and will now be considered in the full Senate.

Kentucky already bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Since Republicans assumed control of the state legislature in 2017, lawmakers have passed several measures to try and restrict the procedure even further, including a ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, often as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

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Ryland Barton is WFPL's Managing Editor for Collaboratives.