If you oppose abortion, don’t get one. But politicians should not be the ones to decide.

·3 min read

If you oppose abortion, do not have one. What politicians and judges should not get to do is make this deeply personal choice for millions of Americans.

The Supreme Court last week in Dobbs v Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade and stripped women of a right we have had for almost 50 years. Kentucky children and grandchildren now have less rights than their moms and grandmothers had.

The Kentucky legislature recently passed legislation banning abortion in our commonwealth with no exceptions for rape or incest. I watched this legislation pass through a committee on which I was the only woman legislator.

I want to be crystal clear: This legislation means that, for example, a 12-year-old girl who is a victim of sexual abuse will be forced to carry to carry her rapist’s baby to term. This is not a hypothetical. One of my jobs in college was working at what was then called a “home for unwed mothers.” I had a 13-year-old girl there who was pregnant with her second baby. I had to supervise visits between a 16-year-old girl and the father of her baby—who was also her father.

I am a practicing physician. I look at ultrasounds every day. I do not need lectures about when life begins. Have you ever seen a woman in sepsis after a botched, illegal abortion? I have and it is horrific.

We know abortion will continue whether or not it is legal in Kentucky. Kentuckians will now have to choose whether they can afford the expenses required to seek medical assistance hundreds of miles away from their home. Others will be forced to remain pregnant for nine months and then give birth in a state that actively passes legislation that especially hurts the most vulnerable in our Commonwealth—low-income single parents and their children.

Last session, Republicans passed bills to make access to food assistance more difficult, reduced unemployment insurance, and refused to hear legislation for universal pre-kindergarten. When people claim to be “pro-life” and refuse to pass bills to alleviate the struggles of working parents, we know that their ban is simply a grab for control.

I am Jewish. My faith teaches that the life of the parent takes precedence and that life begins when a baby crowns. I do not expect Kentuckians of other faith traditions to share this belief; I simply ask that the law respects the teachings of other religions and allows me and other Kentuckians to follow our own conscience and faith. Abortion is healthcare. Your religious beliefs should not have the power to control my reproductive health.

I will say again. If you oppose abortion, do not get one. That is your right. This is a deeply personal decision that has moral, ethical and religious components for many people. This is a decision a woman should make in consultation with her doctor and, if she chooses, her family and faith leaders—taking into account her own circumstances. It is not a decision for politicians in Frankfort or Washington D.C., and certainly not for justices on the Supreme Court.

As sad, angry, and frustrated as we are, we knew this decision was coming. Republicans have been plotting and organizing for years to overturn Roe. With Kentucky’s trigger ban in effect, the near future looks bleak. And now they have made it clear that they are now coming after birth control and marriage equality. But hopelessness has no place in the fight back. It will be a long battle to restore what has been taken from us. We need an organized movement to match the machine that stripped our right to control our own bodies. The election is on Nov. 8. Spread the word, tell your community, and get out to vote this fall like your rights depend on it. They actually do.

State Rep. Karen Berg represents the 26th District of Jefferson County.

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