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'That's not reality': Lexington lawmaker files bills she says would roll back laws based on unrealistic views of pregnancy

Josh James

A Lexington lawmaker is leading the push to repeal Kentucky's abortion restrictions, filing a trio of bills that would also target other issues surrounding maternal health and privacy.

Rep. Lindsey Burke told her own deeply personal story about pregnancy, loss, and seeking care that was unavailable in Kentucky to a bank of cameras Wednesday afternoon. hoping to get one message across: pregnancy is often a complicated process that can't be legislated in simple ways.

"I too want to be a parent. I love children. I want to see families grow, but I understand — because of the life that I've lived — that it's actually very complicated," Burke said. "It's not always a straight forward 'Yay, we have a happy, positive pregnancy test, nine months, oh, I got a little sick to my stomach, and now we have baby.' That's not reality."

The Democrat from Fayette County is filing one bill that aims to return the state's reproductive health laws to what they were in 2015. A second bill would require an existing health program to add information about maternal and postpartum depression.

The third, House Bill 429, named the Shield Bill, provides protections for private medical information and providers for patients who access care out of state.

"It's not fair that someone should be forced into a horrible situation, make an impossible decision, and then have to live with the fear of being criminalized, attacked, doxed, whatever for the rest of their lives," Burke said. "So we need protections for people who seek care out-of-state and the Shield Bill is how we can protect other Kentuckians."

The Lexington legislator said the bill comes in the wake of former Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron's opposition to a federal privacy rule that would block state officials from accessing medical information on reproductive healthcare obtained out-of-state.

Cameron had argued the rule would interfere with the ability of state officials to "obtain evidence of potential violations of state laws."

Burke acknowledged there's little appetite in the GOP-led legislature for reversing course on the state's slate of anti-abortion laws, but she said she foresees a time when the effects of the restrictions will create a push for action in the General Assembly.

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.