It always baffled me that states in America could seem like separate countries, even separate worlds. That’s how it felt when I moved from Kentucky to New York for college. The culture shock that hit me hardest was reproductive health.
I remember riding my first Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) bus in 2019. I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I saw an advertisement for the local Planned Parenthood proudly stating they performed medical and surgical abortions.
That same year, Kentucky signed into law both a bill that restricted abortion after six weeks when a fetal heartbeat is detected and a trigger law that would ban abortion immediately with Roe v. Wade reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fueling the misogynistic fire, Planned Parenthood in Kentucky was not allowed to perform abortions. This left only one abortion clinic in the entire state. That one clinic could never catch a break, between protesters parading outside and the government hard at work to close it down. In one of the poorest states in America, the health service was unattainable for the majority of citizens. Still, abortions are just a small slice of the large pie that is reproductive health.
In 2020, Kentucky was one of the worst states to be a woman in terms of women’s overall well-being.
Kentucky is one of six states that have zero legal protections over women’s rights.
76 out of 120 counties in Kentucky do not have access to an OB/GYN. This is not abortions, but basic reproductive healthcare.
I was home for the summer fighting for change in Kentucky on a U.S. Senatorial campaign when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. This put Kentucky’s trigger law into effect.
Meanwhile, as I was traveling to cities around Kentucky attending abortion rights rallies, I read an article from the Ithaca Voice with the title: “New bill declares Ithaca a sanctuary city for abortions and reproductive healthcare”.
Growing up as a woman in a state where our rights and bodily autonomy are constantly under attack was hard. I found my voice through writing and activism, which drew me to a place like Ithaca for college. I truly think that I would not be as passionate about social justice issues if I grew up in New York where there is more access and inclusive legislation.
New York is far from perfect, and I will do what I can to push for positive change. Yet no matter where life takes me, I will always fight for Kentucky.