Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said she’s asked the city’s law department to “look into” issues around the city’s enforcement of laws on abortion.
Gorton issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, “I have been frequently asked about enforcement of the law. I have asked our Law Department to look into it.
“I am concerned about the health and well-being of our residents who will be most affected by this decision,” she said. “We must be vigilant in our support of these people. That is what we can do.”
Gorton, a registered nurse, said she believes “the decision should be between a woman and her health care provider.”
She said in the statement that during her 40-year career in healthcare, she has “personally seen and worked with many patients having to make difficult, life altering decisions.
“That includes patients suffering intractable pain, people with wounds that would not heal, patients with suicidal thoughts, babies with seizures and pregnant women with life-threatening health issues.
“All of these patients were managed within the confidential arena of relationships between health care providers and patients.”
Last Friday, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a “trigger law” went into effect in Kentucky that bans abortion unless it’s necessary to “prevent the death or substantial risk of death . . . or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman.”
Gorton and her opponent in the November election, Councilman David Kloiber, were asked last week about whether they’d enforce the law.
A spokeswoman for Gorton’s office said the city had “not assessed if there will be an impact on local government.”
Kentucky’s only two abortion clinics were in Louisville.
Kloiber responded Tuesday that he was “disappointed” in Gorton’s response to the issue, saying it “has placed health care providers in an untenable situation having to make life and death decisions without any form of protection from the local government.”
He said it also “fails to speak to the struggle of women who do not have the luxury or ability to travel out of state for these life saving procedures” and “cedes leadership on this issue to state and federal representatives and hopes that they will fight for the rights of our local residents.”
“Many people believe this is not a local issue, that it can only be addressed at the state and federal levels, but in fact some of the quickest and most impactful measures can be taken right here at the city level,” he said in the statement.
Kloiber pointed to Cincinnati, where the mayor wants to provide coverage for abortion for city employees and reimburse them for related travel expenses.
“Enhance our employee health care to provide coverage for travel expenses for procedures that require out of state travel, and prioritize police resources to protect the health of women and health care providers,” he said. “Our residents deserve a quick and decisive response in this time of uncertainty.”