“It’s not about supplication, it’s about power. It’s not about asking, it’s about demanding. It’s not about convincing those who are currently in power, it’s about changing the very face of power itself.” – Kimberle Williams Crenshaw
During my first term as a state representative, legislation to lift up hard-working Kentucky families and address issues like police violence stagnated in the Kentucky Capitol, while my colleagues rammed through another arbitrary abortion ban.
I am not surprised, but I am disappointed.
Rather than working to create innovative solutions to the real problems that Kentuckians face, the majority in the General Assembly resorted to tired tricks that play politics with women’s health and criminalize doctors who perform a safe and medically-proven abortion procedure at our state’s last remaining abortion clinic. As elected officials who serve the people of Kentucky, I believe that we could, and should, do better.
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Another abortion restriction was signed by Gov. Matt Bevin earlier this year, though abortion care is already highly regulated and highly stigmatized, making us one of only six states in the country that have only one abortion clinic.
This is not a mantle we should proudly proclaim, especially when we as a state have failed to adequately address our rates of maternal mortality, failed to ensure pregnant workers can get the accommodations they need to do their jobs safely without fear of losing them, and failed to raise our minimum wage to be more in line with the realities of today’s economy.
Not only are these laws that limit abortion often cruel and politically motivated, but they are also often unconstitutional — and cost taxpayers of Kentucky millions of dollars in legal fees. We cannot afford to fund the purchase of textbooks in our biennium budget but we can afford unnecessary lawsuits?
Kentuckians deserve better. We are hard workers and we are facing tough problems. The people I represent want affordable, accessible health care, a living wage to provide for their families, and safe communities, not blatant attacks on women’s access to reproductive health.
While my colleagues were wasting time trying to strip the women of our state of the basic right to control their bodies, I co-sponsored legislation to create paid sick leave for hard-working Kentucky families, amend discriminatory tax laws that disproportionally affect women and mothers, and change aspects of the hiring process that create pay inequity.
Instead of indulging in political distractions and squandering our state’s resources in legal battles, I have worked to support working families and lift up our communities.
Sadly, Kentucky is not alone. 2018 has seen at least 40 bills to ban abortion at different points in pregnancy, or even altogether, in at least 20 states. This comes on top of the more than 400 abortion restrictions that states have passed just since 2011.
As the first African-American woman to serve in the Kentucky House in nearly 20 years, it is not lost on me that these affronts to bodily autonomy fall hardest on communities of color and working families.
That is why I stand with the more than 260 state legislators of the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, state legislators from 43 states who are proudly standing up for reproductive health care and justice. We know that control over our bodies and our futures is not a political issue to trade away. It is a core component of our vision of a better country for all of us.
I envision a country where each of us can make personal decisions about our bodies and futures without government interference. The grassroots activism I have seen since being elected in 2016 shows me that we are in this fight together. I will not stand idly by while others impugn our rights and shirk their responsibilities to find solutions to tough problems. I stand with you and I will not be silent.
Kentucky Rep. Attica Scott, D.-Louisville, represents District 41.