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'We are in crisis but we're showing up': Reproductive freedom advocates sound the alarm on downstream effects of abortions bans

Josh James

Reproductive rights advocates gathered in the Capitol Tuesday, and their message went far beyond the state's abortion bans.

Some of messages seen and heard in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday were familiar: "Stop the bans" and "Bans off our bodies." But with the near-total elimination of abortion rights now in effect more than a year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, new, more urgent signs are popping up, such as "Stop forced pregnancy" and "Our daughters deserve a choice."

Tamarra Wieder with Planned Parenthood said the downstream effects of the bans are creating hurdles to access to basic women's healthcare.

"It is trickling down through the family in a variety of ways," she told WUKY. "Seventy-three counties out of one-hundred-twenty do not have practicing OBGYNs and that's becoming more severe as we're losing more providers. These legislators need to fully understand that their constituents do not forget the fear of having a non-viable pregnancy and being told that there is nothing they can do about it."

That stat showing more than half of Kentucky counties lacking a dedicated OBGYN is backed up by the National Health Resources and Services Administration.

Wieder says the dwindling access is bringing more people to the cause, though it's an issue where the GOP-led legislature has dug in its heels. While Senate leadership has said a Democratic bill creating exceptions for rape and incest in Kentucky's abortion law would head to committee, as of Tuesday — the halfway point in the session — it had not been assigned to one.

Kentuckians have voted overwhelming Republican majorities into the General Assembly, guaranteeing an uphill battle for abortion rights supporters, but the state also voted against an amendment that would have explicitly codified anti-abortion language in the state constitution.

Last year's gubernatorial election also saw a shift in the political dynamic on the issue — with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear pushing his Republican opponent to back away from what Beshear described as "extreme" provisions in Kentucky's abortion laws.

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.