Clergy teams up with Planned Parenthood to oppose proposed abort - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Clergy teams up with Planned Parenthood to oppose proposed abortion bill in Kentucky

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Local church leaders discuss concerns with House Bill 149. Local church leaders discuss concerns with House Bill 149.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local clergy are teaming up with Planned Parenthood to speak out about a proposed abortion bill in Kentucky. 

House Bill 149 would block public funding for organizations that provide abortion services. The bill defines those abortion services as performing abortions and giving women information about where abortions can be performed.

The bill also says organizations can't provide counseling or advice that might encourage an abortion.

"If you are receiving a grant, say for daycare or a food bank service or refugee ministries, if you are receiving public funds and are giving counsel or talking to people about abortion, this could then affect you," said Tamarra Wieder with Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky.

Some local clergy members say the definition of abortion services in the legislation is too broad. 

"It's so poorly and broadly written that it leaves open too many questions," Rev. Dr. Derek Penwell of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church said.

At a press conference with Planned Parenthood on Wednesday morning, several local clergy members said the bill would keep church leaders from counseling women about their options.

"Proposed House Bill 149 is an effort to keep women from getting the information that they need. It's that simple," said Rev. Elwood Sturtevant of Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church. 

Supporters of the bill say government money should not be used to promote abortions. At a pro-life rally at the Capitol Building in Frankfort on Wednesday afternoon, Jason Hall with the Catholic Conference of Kentucky said the state has had some tremendous legislative victories regarding abortion. 

"Let's make Kentucky a state where every child is welcome, where every woman is supported ... so that abortion ... none of these things need to be discussed," Hall said.

The bill is also raising big concerns about free speech.

"This is a violation of First Amendment rights," said Marcie Crim with the Kentucky Health Justice Network. "You cannot tell people that they cannot say something."

She also said her organization intends to fight the legislation if it passes. 

Penwell is concerned that since the legislation targets confidential counseling services, it infringes on what he calls protected, privileged speech.

"It's opening a can of worms that I just don't think you can put the cover back on," Penwell said. 

Planned Parenthood says the only public funding it gets from the Commonwealth of Kentucky is for medicaid reimbursements, it does not receive Title X funding from the government here. 

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