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Kentucky Lawmaker Attempts to Define Abortion as Domestic Violence

Emily Crockett

According to Kentucky Rep. Joe Fischer, who has attached a 20-week abortion ban to a domestic violence bill, "The most brutal form of domestic violence is the violence against unborn children.”

Kentucky state Rep. Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) has added an amendment banning abortions at 20 weeks to a domestic violence bill, saying that “the most brutal form of domestic violence is the violence against unborn children.”

The bill, HB 8, would expand domestic violence protections and is strongly supported by Kentucky house Democrats. Under current Kentucky law, only couples who are currently married or living together can get protective orders against an abusive partner. The new bill would ensure that victims in an abusive dating relationship who do not live with their partner still have access to domestic violence protections in the courts.

Fischer’s amendment—like a similar bill that was just introduced into the Kentucky senate, and like 20-week abortion bans across the country—relies on debunked science to claim that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks.

“This tactic is really sad,” Derek Selznick, Reproductive Freedom Project director at the ACLU of Kentucky, told Rewire. “It’s pushing a political agenda and ignores the daily realities that thousands of Kentucky women and men face trying to get protective orders from the court system.”

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House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) said he will likely rule that Fischer’s amendments are not germane to the original legislation and can thus be ignored.

For the past decade, as John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, the Democratic chair of the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee has kept new anti-choice legislation from reaching the floor. But if Republicans were to regain control of the house in November, Kentucky women could be vulnerable to new abortion restrictions as severe and numerous as those in Texas.

“Every year we come within a hair’s breadth of awful stuff,” Selznick said. “I never feel good until [anti-choice bills] actually die.”

Kentucky’s legislature is considering at least seven other anti-choice bills this year. Many are routinely introduced every session only to die in committee, such as forced ultrasound bills or requirements that “informed consent” be given in person rather than over the phone. One such informed consent bill passed out of a senate committee on Friday.

In addition to his 20-week ban amendment, Rep. Fischer has sponsored another informed consent bill, a bill regulating abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, and a bill that would forbid minors from out of state from using Kentucky’s judicial bypass system if they need a court order to get around parental consent laws. Another house bill, sponsored by Rep. Stan Lee (R-Fayette), would prohibit the use of telemedicine abortions.

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