Kentucky Abortion Laws

We touched on the Kentucky laws in effect to restrict abortion in a previous article. There have been some requests for an article just on the Kentucky restrictions. I found I needed to consult multiple resources to really get a complete picture of current laws.

In my opinion, the best resource for all current laws and proposed laws is the Guttmacher Institute. They update their databases monthly. Here is the link to their document for July 2012. (Pdf)

NARAL Pro-Choice America  gets into the details and has a lot of information concerning the laws effecting where an abortion can be obtained and clinic regulation.

Find Law is another source for definitions.

It is really necessary to use all sources together to get a complete picture of the obstacles placed in clients’ ways when they seek an abortion in Kentucky.

What are the current laws for abortion in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of January 2011:

  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Abortion is not covered in insurance policies for public employees.
  • Abortion is covered in private insurance policies only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
  • There is also a Federal Abortion Ban, which applies nationwide regardless of state law.  The federal ban prohibits certain second-trimester abortion procedures and has no exception for a woman’s health.

What applies to physicians and clinics?

  • A woman may not obtain abortion care at a publicly owned hospital or other publicly owned health-care facility unless the procedure is necessary to preserve her life.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 311.800(1) (Enacted 1980).
  • BUT for second trimester abortions they must be performed in a hospital. Yes, these laws contradict each other.
  • No physician, nurse, hospital staff member, or employee of a hospital or health-care facility, who objects on moral, religious, or professional grounds may be required to participate in abortion services. No private health-care facility or private hospital may be required to permit abortion care contrary to its stated ethical policy.
  • Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP Laws)

    • Providers of abortion services at any stage of pregnancy – including private physicians – must comply with administrative, physical-plant, and employee-testing requirements.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 216B.015(1), 216B.020(2)(b) (Original Statute Enacted 1980; Relevant Provision Enacted 1998), Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann §§ 216B.0431 (Enacted 1998), 216B.0435 (Enacted 1998); 902 Ky. Admin. Regs. 20:360.
    • Every abortion facility must enter into a written agreement with a hospital and an ambulance service in which the hospital and ambulance service each agree in advance to accept and treat patients if complications arise.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 216B.0435 (Enacted 1998).  Nothing in the statute requires hospitals or ambulance services to agree to enter into such agreements.
    • Providers are subject to unannounced inspections at any time.  902 Ky. Admin. Regs. 20:360 § 2(4)(a); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 216B.042(2) (Original Statute Enacted 1982; Relevant Provision Enacted 1994).

Are there other laws concerning abortion in Kentucky?

  • There is a counseling ban/gag rule preventing emergency room personnel examining sexual offenses reported to law enforcement from discussing abortion. “ The pregnancy counseling provided to survivors of reported sexual offenses may not include abortion counseling or referral.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. A 216B.400 (Enacted 1974; Last Amended 2006).”
  • A school district shall not operate a family-resource center or a youth-services center that provides abortion counseling or makes referrals to a health-care facility for the purpose of seeking abortion services.  S.B. 192, 2008 Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Ky. 2008) (to be codified at Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. A 156.496, 156.4975).
  • Kentucky’s post-viability abortion restriction states that no abortion may be provided after viability unless necessary to preserve the woman’s life or health.  The attending physician must take all reasonable steps consistent with reasonable medical practices to preserve the life and health of the fetus.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 311.780 (Enacted 1974), 311.720(10) (Enacted 1974).
  • “If . . . the United States Constitution is amended or relevant judicial decisions are reversed or modified, the declared policy of this Commonwealth to recognize and to protect the lives of all human beings regardless of their degree of biological development shall be fully restored.”  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 311.710(5) (Original Statute Enacted 1974; Relevant Provision Enacted 1982).  Since Kentucky’s pre-Roe abortion ban has been repealed, additional legislation would likely be required to reinstate the ban. 

Is it any wonder why abortion regulations in Kentucky are hard to navigate? This is also why we must constantly stay aware of new legislation introduced to further restrict access to abortion.


REMINDER: If you are interested in escorting, don’t forget the training on September 8th at 9A.  Training is not required, but it’s helpful. Please see our Trainings for Escorts page or email us for additional information.

2 thoughts on “Kentucky Abortion Laws

    • Oubli,

      Texas is dangerous for women because of their laws. There are so many states now that keep piling on restrictions for reproductive choice. Medical advice and regulations dispensed from political office. It is really discouraging and scary.


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