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'Handmaids' Attend Kentucky Committee Hearing On Abortion Bills

Josh James

A Kentucky House committee has signed off on two abortion-related bills that critics worry will be used to target providers. Attendees with Planned Parenthood and other groups expressed their opposition in committee Wednesday by dressing as characters from The Handmaid's Tale.

The committee sent a pair of abortion-related bills to the Kentucky House ⁠— one requiring the "dignified treatment" of fetal remains and another broadening the scope of the attorney general's power to enforce laws dealing with facilities that provide abortions.

Lexington Rep. Stan Lee said, under current law, the attorney general can only take such action if called upon to do so by the head of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

"This bill would allow the attorney general to independently take action," the Republican explained. "This is in keeping with the attorney general's role as chief law enforcement officer."

Seated behind Lee were silent abortion rights supporters donning the red cloaks and white bonnets seen in the TV adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, costumes which have become a popular symbol in women's rights movements.

"We were trying to communicate visually our support of our right to choose," says Adrienne Adams, one of more than a dozen opponents wearing the attire known as a "modesty costume" in the popular Hulu series.

It's a message she suspected was lost on some lawmakers, the majority of whom voted to send the bills to the full chamber. "I feel like it was rushed. I didn't feel like people got to ask the questions that they wanted to and the people who were opposing the bill weren't allowed to fully speak," she said.

Gov. Andy Beshear's administration recently granted approval to Planned Parenthood to offer abortion services in Louisville, taking the number of providers in the state from one to two.

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