Politicians don’t belong in my health decisions

OPINION AND COMMENT

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A new ad from Protect Kentucky Access, a campaign trying to thwart a constitutional amendment in November’s election, features the testimony of a Kentucky woman who says she wanted to get pregnant but medical complications necessitated an abortion.

I am 82 years old. I don’t need access to abortion services and contraception, but I do care deeply about women’s access to reproductive health care.

I saw many years when abortion was illegal and access to contraception was restricted. I remember the stories of young women dying from illegal failed abortions. The ban on abortions didn’t stop them; it only made them risky and often unsafe for the woman.

I’ve been married 60 years, have one son, had five miscarriages, cervical cancer and a hysterectomy.

So….. I was a consumer of female reproductive health services. And in each case, my freedom to consult a qualified doctor who could help us make informed decisions—in private—was essential. Government does not belong in the middle of these healthcare decisions, whatever the issue.

But in Kentucky, the government insists on being right there.

There are at least 61 laws in Kentucky related to abortion and reproductive health, passed in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1990, 1998, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022. Reproductive health applies to both men and women, but all 61 laws are set over state control ladies reproductive health care. Not a single law regulates male reproductive health care.

Kentucky has banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected (usually about 3 1/2 – 4 weeks after conception, before most women realize they are pregnant). Exceptions exist only to prevent death or a significant and irreversible impairment of an essential bodily function of the woman or in the event of a medical emergency. No exception for rape, incest, consideration of other health issues or mental health of the woman. How close does the woman have to be to death or serious physical injury?

A woman who chooses to continue a pregnancy full-time has made a choice. The woman who decides to have an abortion has made a choice. Both are possible because the woman has the choice. When a government bans abortion, women lose agency. The government has taken the power to make the decision. It legislated the decision.

Remember that if a government has the power to ban abortion, it also has the power to mandate it. Couldn’t happen here? It happened in China during its “one child policy”. It happened in Nazi Germany in its program to “cleanse” the German race. It happened in North Korea in the 1980s. Compulsory sterilizations took place in the United States for much of the 20th century for various government purposes.

A government that has the power to ban abortion has the power to interfere with other reproductive health decisions: contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, treatment after miscarriage.

The Kentucky legislature has introduced a constitutional amendment to the upcoming vote you have to vote on in November’s general election. The question is:

“Are you in favor of amending the Kentucky Constitution by creating a new section of the Constitution numbered 26A which reads: In order to protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to imply a right to an abortion secures or protects require funding for abortion?”

A “yes” vote means you want to amend the Kentucky Constitution to say that a Kentucky woman does not have a constitutional right to an abortion. Period. No exceptions. A “No” vote means you do Not would like to amend the Kentucky Constitution to say such a thing.

I have had the freedom to make my reproductive health decisions in consultation with my doctors and those I trust. I want you to have the same freedom.

Therefore I will vote ‘no’. And I encourage you to do the same.

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Marilyn Daniel

Marilyn S. Daniel is a retired attorney in Woodford County.

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