To become a state with a comprehensive “culture of life” it takes many people and many groups doing the many things necessary. Kentucky has been graced with many of the assets needed. Though there is still a long way to go for the Commonwealth to reach its apex in the reversal the nation’s Roe vs Wade curse, the state is on the cusp of more major strides forward. Consider where we have been and where we are going with the following projects, groups and leaders that have risen to extend the “culture of life” in the state:
Pregnancy Care Centers
There are now over 50 pregnancy care centers that freely serve the hundreds of Kentucky women each year that experience an unwanted pregnancy. (See map on next page). These centers are funded primarily by contributions from those on their areas. They are staffed in part by many volunteers who simply want to serve the women in need in their communities. Without doubt these centers are concerned not only for the mother, but also for the unborn child, so they stock their offices with both maternity clothing and baby clothing as well as other maternal supplies that can help a young woman make the transition into gracefully bringing a new life into the world and raising that child.
Embodying the “grace” side of “grace and truth,” these centers together manifest the caring side of the major rift in America caused by the U.S Supreme Court’s 1973 intrusion into the Congressional domain of making new law.
Kentucky Memorial for the Unborn
Another aspect of the sanctity of life issue, both across America and in Kentucky, is the fact that many women have had abortions and now painfully regret their decision. A young woman in crisis, not knowing what she will do but “trusting” Uncle Sam and his pro-choice Roe vs Wade policy will often realize years later that she chose to terminate the life of her own child. That realization most often results in regret and emotional heartache.
In addition to the post-abortion counseling that pregnancy care centers offer, pro-life Kentuckians, under the leadership of Kathy Rutledge, raised funds and built the Kentucky Memorial to the Unborn, which allows women to memorialize their unborn child on a granite wall set in a beautiful garden-like setting overlooking the state Capitol. (See photo on left) The Memorial serves those who have lost children through abortion or through miscarriage – it was designed to simply honor the life in the womb that was lost prematurely.
CHOOSE LIFE License Plates
This year marks the 11th year that CHOOSE LIFE license plate dollars have supported pregnancy care centers that serve the women of Kentucky.
The big winners in the “CHOOSE LIFE” license plate project have always been the Kentucky women who are caught in an untimely pregnancy and who do not feel that they have life-giving options. Since 100 percent of the money generated by the plates goes to the local pregnancy care centers that dot the state, it is the women in need that experience the most meaningful impact from the funds given.
Anyone can sign up for an official Kentucky CHOOSE LIFE license plate and give a $10 donation (the maximum gift allowed) when they go to renew their plate. The donated money is delivered annually to The Family Foundation by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and then 100 percent of it is distributed to state pregnancy care centers.
State Senator Jack Westwood (R-Erlanger-Ret), had worked for several years to secure the official CHOOSE LIFE license plate for Kentucky but was thwarted each year by pro-choice Democrats in the House of Representatives. In 2006, he worked out a compromise with a Democrat bill sponsor and the funds began to flow.
Now the total funds garnered from this effort has reached over one third of a million dollars and have helped the pregnancy care centers, along with the women they serve, to flourish.
Without doubt, those promoting life in Kentucky have been encouraged by the election of one of the most passionate prolife governors in the country. Gov. Matt Bevin, with an upset election victory in 2015, has taken strong stands for life whether it be through his public speaking, his leadership with the members of the House and Senate, or through his administration going to court to protect the gains won in the legislature and righting the wrongs of the last, very pro-choice, Beshear Administration.
But more than just the election of Gov. Bevin, most Kentuckians don’t realize that swept into office with him in 2015 were prolife Auditor Mike Harmon, pro-life Treasurer Allison Ball and pro-life Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. This makes the Executive Branch predominately led by committed pro-life leaders – a first in Kentucky since before the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision.
But a governor cannot work alone to accomplish all that is in his heart unless there is a legislative body that will work with him. In the 2016 elections, the pro-choice, Democrat-dominated House flipped to a pro-life, Republican-dominated Chamber in a single election. And, it was not a minor shift – it was an earthquake. The House had been 54-46 Democrat to Republican, and it turned to become a 64-36 Republican to Democrat Chamber.
With the Senate already a 27-11 pro-life, Republican-dominated body, the transformation of the House moved the legislature into a position to pass prolife legislation. In the 2017 Session alone, a 20-Week Abortion Ban, an Ultrasound Bill, and an act that defunded Planned Parenthood passed with overwhelming majorities, generating a quantum leap forward for the pro-life cause in the state.
In addition to the aforementioned assets working in Kentucky, there are a number of very active pro-life organizations that work to educate and impact the legislature. If the pregnancy care centers are the “grace” part of “grace and truth,” then these groups embody the “truth” side of that equation.
Kentucky Right To Life Association is the “grand daddy” of them all. Headquartered in Louisville and founded in 1970, it has 16 affiliates across the state. Margie Montgomery, a remarkable woman who has led the organization since its inception, still leads the group which focuses primarily on sanctity of life education and on legislation “from the cradle to the grave.”
Northern Kentucky Right to Life, located primarily in the northern three counties of the state, has also been serving Kentucky for many years. Over the years, they have boasted the strongest pro-life delegation of state legislators sent to work in Frankfort.
Dr. Frank Simon has worked for 35 years in policy. His American Family Association of Kentucky has been laboring on many issues confronting Kentucky; but it has always stood most strongly with those articulating the need to protect the sanctity of life.
The Family Foundation, whose home office is located in Lexington, has worked alongside the Kentucky Right To Life Association in their legislative work since 1990. In addition, in 1994 The Family Foundation facilitated the founding the Kentucky Association of Pregnancy Care Centers.
Last but not least, it is important to note the Kentucky has over 6,000 Bible-oriented churches. Though not all engage the issues and the debates in Frankfort, it is true that, generally speaking, they gravitate to the sanctity of life position that is clearly stated in Scripture.
As more and more of these churches come on board to be salt and light, the promise of Kentucky being a light to the nation on this, and many other issues, becomes more and more believable. Remember it was Christians who made the difference in the 2015 election of Gov. Bevin, and it was Christians who made the difference in the 2016 “flip” of the House. Who knows what that same body of people will accomplish if they indeed stay the course and become what they are called to become and they do all they are called to do?
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has many things going for it in regards to the sanctity of human life. Leadership at all levels and in all spheres will be necessary because of the tried and true reality that “Nothing moves unless it is pushed.” Many Kentuckians are pushing as hard as they can for the goal, “No abortions are done here.”