Kentucky is failing its women


Illustration by Ben Wade

Opinions Staff

Legislators are failing to provide Kentucky women with the healthcare they deserve.

Current results from a report by the Population Institute, concerning women’s reproductive health, show that Kentucky — and our legislators — need to make women’s health a priority, and do so fast.

The report analyzed the state of women’s health across the United States. Kentucky received an F, based on effectiveness, prevention, affordability and access of women’s reproductive health.

“Women’s access to healthcare in Kentucky is very limited. For women trying to receive access, and even just preventive health care, it is very difficult,” said Tamarra Wieder, Director of External Affairs of Planned Parenthood. “I do agree that Kentucky deserves an F for its access of reproductive health.”

The report is alarming, but what is even more alarming is the Senate Bill 4. The bill mandates an in-person counseling session between a woman and her physician 24 hours before an abortion procedure, even in cases of rape or incest.

The bill passed the Kentucky Senate Jan. 9.

Previously women could be counseled by phone, or via Internet, 24 hours prior to their abortion services. Now women must visit the abortion location (Louisville) and return 24 hours later for the procedure.

“With the waiting period they will now have to make two trips to their abortion provider, which can be very burdensome to most women accessing abortion services because that is an extra day they have to take off, an extra day of childcare they are going to have to find and gas,” Wieder said. “That can really be cost prohibitive for women trying to access abortion services.”

To even have a mandatory counseling before the abortion service is gut wrenching. And this can be contributed to the failing score that Kentucky received for women’s reproductive health.

“With the 24 hour counseling, I think that it is condescending to women. It makes it appear that they haven’t already thought about why they want an abortion, or why they need an abortion,” Wieder said.

Mandatory 24 hour counseling is only one factor in why Kentucky received an F.

Another factor in this is 74 percent of women in Kentucky live in a county without an abortion provider. Wieder said that only 76 of the 120 counties in Kentucky have OBGYN healthcare.

“People have to travel far and wide to reach these basic gynecological care,” Wieder said. “I think the climate in Kentucky makes it difficult for people to open up a medical center that provides abortions. There hasn’t been a new abortion provider in Kentucky for over 20 years.”

Kentuckians need to have a conversation with their legislative representatives to help reproductive healthcare clinics. Planned Parenthood is part of the conversation for fixing women’s reproductive health, but all citizens should be making sure women have the reproductive healthcare they need.

“It is really important, especially in a legislative session like we are going through now, that they do contact their representative, so they know that reproductive healthcare is a priority for them,” Wieder said. “Especially outside Louisville and Lexington, it is really hard to get constituents from rural areas.”

Our mothers, sisters and friends deserve basic rights to gynecological care, access to abortion services and legislators who have their back. 

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