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If SCOTUS OKs Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, Kentucky may have its own version primed to take effect too

Andrew Harnik/AP
FILE - A group of anti-abortion protesters pray together in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington, as the court hears arguments in a case from Mississippi, where a 2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before viability. As the Supreme Court court weighs the future of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, a resurgent anti-abortion movement is looking to press its advantage in state-by-state battles while abortion-rights supporters prepare to play defense. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

A bill trimming Kentucky's 20-week abortion ban to 15 weeks has taken a step toward passage in the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 321 would ban abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy or after, with exceptions for the life or safety of the mother. As the sponsor, Sen. Max Wise, acknowledged, the bill is meant to put Kentucky in a position to immediately enforce the law if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of a similar Mississippi law also barring abortions after 15 weeks.

"I'm bringing this bill to you so that, in the event that 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."
Kentucky Sen. Max Wise

That high court ruling is expected in June or July.

Opponents at Thursday's hearing presented several arguments against the bill, ranging from a lack of medical justification for the 15 week designation to the bill's potential effects on women with less access to care.

One speaker, a mother from Jefferson County who identified herself by first name only, said having an abortion in college enabled her to become an active advocate — helping raise funds for low income citizens and supply free groceries for 80,000 residents of Louisville's West End during the pandemic.

"For people who come from backgrounds where you're the first generation college student or you don't have as many resources or you're on food stamps, for us things are more possible when we're not forced to do things like have a child that we're not prepared for mentally and financially," she said.

She went on to call the bill a "poverty trap."

The measure easily passed the committee, 8-2, and now heads to the Senate.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.