New abortion bill unneeded, a political move by Goforth


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Chris Couch

On Dec, 13, 2018, Kentucky State Legislator representing House District 89, and recently announced gubernatorial candidate Robert Goforth, pre-filed BR 823, also known as the fetal heartbeat bill.

The bill’s purpose is to ban abortions after the first detected heartbeat of a fetus. This policy, the American Civil Liberties Union argues, is unconstitutional as abortion is set in stone under Roe v. Wade.

Two issues arise with the introduction of this bill.

The first is addressing a non-issue. Abortion rates have consistently dropped in Kentucky. In Rachel K. Jones and Jenna Jerman’s research article, “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability In the United States, 2011,” it states from 2008 to 2011, the number of abortions and the abortion rate decreased 13 percent, including in Kentucky.

By looking at their presented data, we can see a trend that in areas with more clinics able to perform abortions, the fewer abortions are performed. In 2008, California had 522 abortion clinics and performed 214,190 abortions. That is roughly 410 abortions per clinic; Kentucky, on the other hand, only had three abortion clinics, but there were 4,430 abortions performed. That is 1,476 abortions per clinic.

This trend, that more abortion providers in a state equate to fewer abortions, come from what Planned Parenthood and other women’s health facilities do on a day-to-day basis.

As of 2016, abortion only accounted for 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s provided services. Meanwhile, 47 percent of their services were STI testing and treating, 28 percent were contraception and 7 percent were cancer screenings and prevention.

The majority of the Republican Party aims to defund Planned Parenthood without acknowledging that providing resources like family planning counseling, and access to affordable contraceptives is statistically proven to reduce rates of abortion— which leads me into my second issue with BR 823.

The introduction of this bill seems like it was only proposed as a method of gaining political recognition. Goforth knows that the bill will be stricken down by higher courts, but he is seeking a bid for the governor’s office. He is also going into a primary election against an incredibly unpopular incumbent.

As of 2018, Matt Bevin had a 55 percent disapproval rating, making him the 4th most unpopular governor. The three governors who were ranked even more unpopular than Bevin were all voted out of office.

This indicates that Bevin will most likely have an uphill battle winning the Republican primary and an even larger battle winning a general election. So, by tackling abortion “issues,” Goforth is setting himself up to reel in votes from Republicans who do not support Bevin— even if the bill goes nowhere, the idea that Goforth fights for conservative values will appeal to the party’s base.