Kentucky Reactions: Roe v. Wade overturned by U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Monks
Michael Monks
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The constitutional right to an abortion in the United States was struck down on Friday by a 6-3 vote from the Supreme Court.

SEE PREVIOUSLY: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade: Here’s what that means for Kentucky

Elected officials and organizations in Kentucky swiftly responded. Here is a collection of some of those statements. This story may be updated.

Governor Andy Beshear addressed the impact of the decision on the state.

“Today’s decision triggers an extremist Kentucky law that creates a total ban in Kentucky that will eliminate all options for victims of rape or incest,” said Beshear, a Democrat. “As the former chief prosecutor of Kentucky, I know that these violent crimes happen, and not having options for victims of rape and incest is wrong.”

In a campaign message, State Rep. Rachel Roberts (D-Newport) issued a call to action for supporters of abortion rights.

“Two years ago I stood on the House floor and for the first time publicly, I told my story of being brutally raped as a 14-year-old girl,” Roberts wrote in the campaign email. “Through my tears, I told my colleagues that I could not have lived with the burden of bearing a rapist’s child had I become pregnant.

“We will not go back. Please join me in the fight for women to make their own personal decisions about their bodies.”

In an additional statement issued on Roberts’s behalf via the House Democratic Caucus, Roberts warned that “women will die.”

“This won’t stop the need for abortion care or abortions in Kentucky. It will just make it impossible for anyone but the wealthy to access safe abortion services, and because of this, women will die,” Roberts said.

“And this will not stop at abortion access. We are already hearing about bills being crafted to target contraceptives in the next Kentucky General Assembly – the makeup of which may be even more extremist if Kentuckians don’t make their way to the polls in record numbers this November.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision released Friday on the case that led to the end of Roe v. Wade, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs is courageous and correct. This is an historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable in our society.

“For 50 years, states have been unable to enact even modest protections for unborn children,” McConnell said in a statement. “More than 90% of Europe restricts abortion on demand after 15 weeks, but every state in America has been forced to allow it more than a month past that, after a baby can feel pain, yawn, stretch, and suck his or her thumb. Judicial activists declared that every state had to handle abortion like China and North Korea and no state could handle it like France or Germany.

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“Not anymore. Now the American people get their voice back.”

McConnell led the long Republican fight in remaking the Supreme Court which now has a two-thirds conservative majority.

“Millions of Americans have spent half a century praying, marching, and working toward today’s historic victories for the rule of law and for innocent life,” McConnell said. “I have been proud to stand with them throughout our long journey and I share their joy today.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) also announced his support of the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Today is a day that many have hoped for—the issue of abortion has been returned to the people and to the states, where it belongs,” Cameron said in a statement. “This moment deserves to be celebrated, but it also calls for renewed commitment. Renewed commitment to life-affirming care for the unborn, for mothers, and for Kentucky families.”

Cameron is seeking the Republican nomination in next year’s gubernatorial race.

“We are entering a new era. No longer will unelected judges make abortion policy for the Commonwealth. Instead, our elected representatives will be able to make public policy that reflects the values of Kentuckians and our deeply held respect for unborn life,” Cameron said.

The Kentucky Democratic Party expressed disappointment and anger in the decision.

“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,” Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge said in a statement. “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.

“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.”

The Catholic Bishops of Kentucky support the Supreme Court’s decision.

“For centuries, the Catholic Church has proclaimed a rich social teaching based upon a deep respect for the sacredness of every human life, including life in the womb,” a statement from the bishops said. “This thread of the dignity of human life is woven into all of our moral and social teaching, including our advocacy for programs and initiatives that confront the sin of racism, lift people out of poverty, end capital punishment, support persons with disabilities, address gun violence, repair a broken immigration system, foster thriving families, and care for our common home, the Earth. We believe that the deliberate decision to end a life in the womb is not the answer for women, children or families.”

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The bishops also called for increasing access to affordable housing and other assistance; support and resources for the promotion of child-birth, adoption, and fostering; and offering greater access to mental health resources, healthcare, domestic violence assistance, childcare assistance, educational and employment opportunities, and paid leave for parents.  

Charles Booker, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in a race this year against incumbent Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposes the court’s decision.

“Today’s decision doesn’t just ban medically necessary procedures like abortion, it undermines so many of the rights that have allowed our country to advance in our pursuits in justice, privacy, liberty, and freedom,” Booker said in a statement. “The pain we feel is our future slipping away, but we can’t give in to despair. Government mandated pregnancy and the harrowing idea that a pregnant person is now state property cannot be reduced to a partisan debate. This is about the fundamental question of whether we still believe in a free and just society. Well I do, and I love this commonwealth and country enough to fight for it!”

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams supports the decision.

“Today, the Supreme Court returned the right of self-government to the States and to the People, as contemplated by the Constitution,” Adams said in a statement. “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.”

Kentucky House and Senate Democratic Caucus Leaders Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Shively) and Rep. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) issued a joint statement.

“Mark our words: Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion will be seen in the future as our era’s Plessy v. Ferguson,” the pair said. “This abhorrent ruling erases nearly 50 years of the court’s own precedents while sending women’s reproductive rights — and risking others like same-sex marriage and rights to contraception — back to the 1700s; it goes against the views of a durable majority of Americans; and, most critically, it needlessly and cruelly threatens the lives of millions of women while telling them they no longer have authority over their own bodies. 

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“This is beyond wrong, and we stand with those who will fight with all we have to overturn this travesty as soon as possible.”

The Kentucky General Assembly Pro-Life Caucus released a statement through State Reps. Nancy (R-Brandenberg and Sen. Robby Mills (R-Henderson) welcoming the decision.

“This is a historical and tide-turning day in the fight to protect humanity’s most innocent. Roe v. Wade was a flawed precedent that has persisted on faulty legal grounds for nearly five decades,” the pair said. “The consequences are the premature death of tens of millions of lives we will never know and who were denied their chance to leave an impression on this world. We remember them today.

“With the fall of Roe v. Wade‘s legal precedent, we encourage all who wish to protect the unborn to stand with us, as they have before, in support of constitutional amendment #2 and vote ‘Yes for Life’ this November.”

The ACLU of Kentucky expressed concern and disappointment in the decision.

“If abortion is, in fact, outlawed in Kentucky, we know many people will not be able to leave the state to seek care elsewhere, and we know this reality will disproportionately harm people living at or near the poverty line, Black and Brown Kentuckians, and those without the partner, familial, or job support needed to leave the state,” said Jackie McGranahan, policy strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky, in a statement.

“Whatever shifting barriers anti-abortion judges and politicians put before us, we will never stop fighting for people’s ability to make their own reproduction health care decisions, including whether and when to become parents,” said Heather Gatnarek, ACLU of Kentucky staff attorney. “No one should have the decision to remain pregnant forced upon them, which is what anti-abortion politicians seek to do.”

“The ACLU of Kentucky is bringing everything it has to the fight for abortion access following this devastating ruling,” said Amber Duke, ACLU of Kentucky interim executive director. “We are mobilizing our members, supporters, and volunteers to show up at statehouse and the ballot box to demand our rights to bodily autonomy. As we navigate a future in which the government can force Kentuckians to remain pregnant against their will, we’ll be doubling down on our work to end maternal mortality, secure paid leave, and expand access to childcare.” 

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