Kentucky Republican wants to redefine abortion as domestic violence

A Kentucky Republican lawmaker wants to classify abortion as a form of domestic violence.

“The most brutal form of domestic violence is the violence against unborn children, and this particular bill would prohibit abortions after the fetus feels pain, which is 20 weeks and older," said Rep. Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas).

The bill, HB 8, would allow victims of alleged abuse to seek domestic violence protection orders from the courts against former spouses and relative living with a child.

Kentucky law currently permits only married or cohabitating couples to seek protection orders.

Fischer tacked on his amendment banning abortions at 20 weeks based on the scientifically unproven claim that fetuses can feel pain at that stage of development.

A similar bill was introduced last month in the Kentucky Senate, and the proposed ban is based on those enacted in other states, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and recently proposed by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.).

“This tactic is really sad,” Derek Selznick, of the ACLU of Kentucky, told RH Reality Check. “It’s pushing a political agenda and ignores the daily realities that thousands of Kentucky women and men face trying to get protective orders from the court system.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) said he would likely rule that Fischer’s amendments are not relevant to the original legislation, which has strong Democratic support, and can thus be ignored.

Fischer said he was frustrated that his anti-abortion proposals – such as an informed consent and fetal heartbeat bills -- were so frequently shot down before receiving a vote.

"This is a solidly pro-life state, even if you don't see it reflected in what happens here in the House," Fischer said. "But elections ultimately will decide the issue."

The Democratic chair of the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee has kept anti-choice legislation from the floor over the past decade, but Republicans could pass some of those restrictions if they regained control of the House in November.

The state currently has only two abortion clinics – one in Louisville that operates five days a week and another in Lexington that operates only two days a week.