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Abortion Legislation

Renee Shaw and guests discuss abortion legislation. Guests: State Representative Nancy Tate (R-Brandenburg); Tamarra Wieder, state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates; Addia Wuchner, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life; and Jackie McGranahan, senior policy strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky.
Season 30 Episode 40 Length 56:33 Premiere: 02/19/24


Kentucky Tonight

KET’s Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, brings together an expert panel for in-depth analysis of major issues facing the Commonwealth.

This weekly program features comprehensive discussions with lawmakers, stakeholders and policy leaders that are moderated by award-winning journalist Renee Shaw.

For nearly three decades, Kentucky Tonight has been a source for complete and balanced coverage of the most urgent and important public affairs developments in the state of Kentucky.

Often aired live, viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions in real-time via email, Twitter or KET’s online form. Viewers with questions and comments may send an email to or use the contact form. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 800-494-7605.

After the broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonight was awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

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Renee Shaw is the Director of Public Affairs and Moderator at KET, currently serving as host of KET’s weeknight public affairs program Kentucky Edition, the signature public policy discussion series Kentucky Tonight, the weekly interview series Connections, Election coverage and KET Forums.

Since 2001, Renee has been the producing force behind KET’s legislative coverage that has been recognized by the Kentucky Associated Press and the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include a daily news and information program, Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, townhall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

Renee has also earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), with three regional Emmy awards. In 2023, she was inducted into the Silver Circle of the NATAS, one of the industry’s highest honors recognizing television professionals with distinguished service in broadcast journalism for 25 years or more.  

Already an inductee into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame (2017), Renee expands her hall of fame status with induction into Western Kentucky University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in November of 2023.  

In February of 2023, Renee graced the front cover of Kentucky Living magazine with a centerfold story on her 25 years of service at KET and even longer commitment to public media journalism. 

In addition to honors from various educational, civic, and community organizations, Renee has earned top honors from the Associated Press and has twice been recognized by Mental Health America for her years-long dedication to examining issues of mental health and opioid addiction.  

In 2022, she was honored with Women Leading Kentucky’s Governor Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award recognizing her trailblazing path and inspiring dedication to elevating important issues across Kentucky.   

In 2018, she co-produced and moderated a 6-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. 

She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; and was recognized as a “Kentucky Trailblazer” by the University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy and Administration during the Wendell H. Ford Lecture Series in 2019. That same year, Shaw was named by The Kentucky Gazette’s inaugural recognition of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government.  

Renee was bestowed the 2021 Berea College Service Award and was named “Unapologetic Woman of the Year” in 2021 by the Community Action Council.   

In 2015, she received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault & human trafficking. In 2014, Renee was awarded the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the KY Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform. Two Kentucky governors, Republican Ernie Fletcher and Democrat Andy Beshear, have commissioned Renee as a Kentucky Colonel for noteworthy accomplishments and service to community, state, and nation.  

A former adjunct media writing professor at Georgetown College, Renee traveled to Cambodia in 2003 to help train emerging journalists on reporting on critical health issues as part of an exchange program at Western Kentucky University. And, she has enterprised stories for national media outlets, the PBS NewsHour and Public News Service.  

Shaw is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Kentucky, a board member of CASA of Lexington, and a longtime member of the Frankfort/Lexington Chapter of The Links Incorporated, an international, not-for-profit organization of women of color committed to volunteer service. She has served on the boards of the Kentucky Historical Society, Lexington Minority Business Expo, and the Board of Governors for the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 

Host Renee Shaw smiling in a green dress with a KET set behind her.

Panelists Debate the Merits of Several Bills Addressing Reproductive Freedom and Maternal Health

A year and a half after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, the debate over reproductive freedom continues in the commonwealth. In 2022, Kentuckians rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have said no right to an abortion exists in that document. And last year, voters reelected Gov. Andy Beshear in part because of his support for rape and incest exceptions to the state’s near-total ban on abortions.

“I don’t believe that the constitutional amendment should be the only gauge that we use in order to determine whether or not Kentuckians favor abortions,” says state Rep. Nancy Tate (R-Brandenburg). “There should never be a circumstance that occurs that should result in the death of an innocent child.”

“When we were talking to Kentuckians, they were fed up with the attacks on abortion care,” says Tamarra Wieder, state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “And it’s not just in Louisville and Lexington, it’s across the commonwealth… Kentuckians, families of all ages are angry.”

Now, bills before the General Assembly this session seek to scale back or even reverse Kentucky’s prohibitions on the procedure, provide greater supports for expectant mothers, and educate public school students on human development from the moment of conception.

Allowing Some Women Access to Abortions

Rep. Lindsey Burke (D-Lexington) has filed legislation to end the abortion bans in the state and to protect women who may travel out of state to receive the procedure. Sen. David Yates (D-Louisville) is the sponsor of Senate Bill 99, which would provide exceptions to the state’s ban for victims of rape and incest, and in cases of lethal fetal anomalies. (The current prohibition provides an exception when the life of the mother is at risk.) SB 99 is named for Hadley Duvall, a young Owensboro woman and rape survivor who appeared in gubernatorial campaign ads last year to call for exceptions for victims of sexual violence.

All of those measures have yet to be assigned to committees.

Jackie McGranahan, senior policy strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky, says a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that nearly 24,000 sexual assaults have occurred in Kentucky in the 17 months since the U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion. That report also said there have been nearly 3,000 pregnancies in the commonwealth as a result of rape in that same time period.

“Where is the dignity in forcing a rape victim to carry the rapist’s pregnancy?” says McGranahan. “If someone wants to continue a pregnancy, I want them to have all of the options available to them. But if they do not, they need to be able to terminate that pregnancy.”

Tate says Hadley Duvall’s story made her angry that the abuse went on for so long, and sad that Duvall had not received the assistance victims need to recover from their trauma. The legislator argues that terminating a pregnancy that results from sexual abuse does nothing to address the original crime.

“Now that woman actually has to carry not only the burden of that attack, but also the burden of losing that child or aborting that child,” says Tate.

But victims process their trauma differently, says Wieder. She contends the state should not limit a woman’s options for moving forward with her life.

“Victims of rape and incest deserve to choose what happens to their body next,” says Wieder. “If they want to have an abortion, you should not be denying them their autonomy again.”

While she acknowledges the barbaric brutality of rape and incest, Kentucky Right to Life Executive Director Addia Wuchner argues that the life borne out of sexual violence has the same value and deserves the same protections as a child conceived by loving parents. She also wonders why the crimes referenced in the JAMA report aren’t being prosecuted.

“If there are that many sexual assaults in Kentucky, we have a problem,” says Wuchner. “We need to be coming together from both sides of the aisle... and saying, ‘What can we do? Why are these crimes and these assaults on women and children occurring here in Kentucky?’”

Helping Mothers Before and After Birth

Lawmakers are also considering legislation to provide more maternal health care as well as emotional, social, and financial support to expectant and new mothers.

In Senate Bill 34, known as the ALPHA Act, Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Fruit Hill) proposes health care and child care assistance for low-income families. The measure also calls for housing assistance and college tuition waivers for pregnant women and mothers of young children.

Meanwhile, House Bill 10, a bipartisan “momnibus” bill, seeks to improve maternal health and health insurance access for expectant moms, and expand state assistance to new mothers under the Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) program.

After the Supreme Court decision, Tate and Wuchner say they and other abortion opponents have worked on legislation to support struggling mothers who may feel like an abortion is their only option. They also hope to improve the state’s maternal mortality rate, which is higher than the national average.

The House Health Services Committee approved HB 10, and it awaits further action by the full House. SB 34 has yet to be heard by the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Wuchner, who is a nurse and a former state representative, says she expects the ALPHA Act to be broken into pieces and integrated into other budget bills.

Wieder and McGranahan say they support HB 10 in its current form. Wieder says many of the provisions in that measure are ideas that pro-choice advocates have long endorsed. But they add that the state’s abortion ban and proposals that could stiffen penalties on maternal health providers are driving obstetricians and gynecologists from the commonwealth.

More than half of Kentucky counties have no practicing OB-GYNs, according to Wieder. She says maternal health is diminished when doctors can’t provide the full range of reproductive health services. She also argues that medical students no longer feel safe training here or doctors practicing here because of the abortion ban.

“We have seen maternity wards in Idaho shut down because doctors have left the state based on their bans,” says Wieder. “They have left the state without access and Kentucky is going to follow suit if we don’t reverse course.”

Wuchner says the number of maternal health providers has been an issue in the state long before the abortion ban took effect.

“This has been a challenge in Kentucky for many, many years, the decrease in primary care physicians, internists, and OB-GYNS,” says Wuchner, “especially for our more rural communities.”

Other Reproductive Health Legislation

Tate hopes to address other areas of human reproduction with measures on sex education and perinatal palliative care.

House Bill 346 would require public schools to include fetal growth and human development as part of health classes starting in sixth grade. Tate says this would include showing students a three-minute animated video on fertilization. She says children should learn that human life begins at conception.

“It’s important for us to acknowledge the humanity of the baby in the womb, as opposed to it being a blob,” says Tate.

Opponents say the so-called Baby Olivia Act, named for the animated baby depicted in one educational video, is being pushed in seven states this year. Wieder says she supports comprehensive sex education but questions the medical and scientific accuracy of the video that would be shown to students. She says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is against the proposal.

“Propaganda like this in the classroom is unacceptable,” says Wieder.

House Bill 467 would require hospitals to offer perinatal palliative care and insurance plans to cover the services. Wuchner says such care should be an option for parents who want to bring a nonviable fetus to term and need help with delivery and the grieving process.

McGranahan says perinatal palliative services already are a standard of care that is covered by insurance. She says she supports the availability of such services but says the state shouldn’t preclude parents from having the option to abort a nonviable fetus.

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Season 30 Episodes

Reviewing the 2024 General Assembly

S30 E44 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 04/15/24

Final Negotiations on the State Budget

S30 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/25/24

School Safety

S30 E42 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/11/24

Early Childhood Education

S30 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/26/24

Abortion Legislation

S30 E40 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/19/24

School Choice and Education Issues

S30 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/12/24

State Budget Discussion

S30 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/05/24

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Higher Education

S30 E37 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/29/24

Safer Kentucky Act

S30 E36 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/22/24

Legislative Priorities in the 2024 General Assembly

S30 E35 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/08/24

Governor Andy Beshear's Budget Address

S30 E34 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 12/18/23

2024 Legislative Preview: Part Two

S30 E33 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/04/23

2024 Legislative Preview

S30 E32 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 11/20/23

Analysts Discuss What to Expect on Election Day 2023

S30 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/06/23

Candidate Conversations: Lieutenant Governor

S30 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/30/23

Candidate Conversations: Governor

S30 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/23/23

Political Analysts Forecast the 2023 General Election

S30 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/17/23

Secretary of State; Commissioner of Agriculture

S30 E27 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/09/23

Auditor of Public Accounts; State Treasurer

S30 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/02/23

Kentucky's Economy, Jobs and Taxes

S30 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/25/23

Higher Education in Kentucky

S30 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/18/23

Kentucky's Health Care Challenges

S30 E23 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/11/23

Education Issues in Kentucky

S30 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/21/23

Fancy Farm Preview and Kentucky Politics

S30 E21 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/31/23

Kentucky's Energy Needs

S30 E20 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 07/17/23

Artificial Intelligence

S30 E19 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 07/10/23

Jobs, Inflation and the Economy

S30 E18 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/26/23

SB 150 and LGBTQ Issues

S30 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/19/23

Horse Racing Safety

S30 E16 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 06/12/23

A Discussion of Gun Laws

S30 E15 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/05/23

Recapping The 2023 Kentucky Primary

S30 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/22/23

2023 Primary Election Preview

S30 E13 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/15/23

Republican Candidate for Secretary of State

S30 E12 Length 15:00 Premiere Date 05/08/23

Republican Candidates for Governor

S30 E11 Length 1:29:20 Premiere Date 05/01/23

Candidates for Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture

S30 E10 Length 1:15:06 Premiere Date 04/24/23

Challenges Facing Kentucky Schools

S30 E9 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/17/23

Policy Analysts Recap the 2023 General Assembly

S30 E8 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 04/10/23

Recap of the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly

S30 E7 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/03/23

Kentucky Legislation on LGBTQ+ Youth

S30 E6 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 03/20/23

Student Discipline Legislation

S30 E5 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/13/23

Gambling Proposals in the Kentucky General Assembly

S30 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/27/23

Kentucky's Teacher Shortage

S30 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/20/23

Exploring Local Government Issues

S30 E2 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/13/23

Child Abuse and Neglect in Kentucky

S30 E1 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/06/23

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Review of the 2024 Kentucky Lawmaking Session - S31 E3

Renee Shaw hosts a review of the 2024 Kentucky lawmaking session. Scheduled guests: State Sen. Phillip Wheeler (R-Pikeville); State Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville); State Rep. Rachel Roarx (D-Louisville); and State Rep. Michael Sarge Pollock (R-Campbellsville). A 2024 KET production.

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Kentucky Tonight - S31 E6

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Legislative Session Recap - S31 E2

  • Wednesday April 17, 2024 5:00 am ET on KET
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State Budget - S30 E44

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