Commentary: Ending the exploitation of women

Mar 18, 2011

Murray, KY – Last month, Senate Bill 9 - also known as The Ultrasound Bill - and several other pro-life measures that would strengthen the Kentucky's abortion laws were struck down by the Health and Welfare Committee. Commentator Richard Nelson says the denial of ultrasound informed consent treats Kentucky women as second-class citizens.

If somebody suggested that it's alright to exploit women and deprive them of equal treatment under the law because they are weaker, they'd be laughed out of Dodge. Most westerners realize the inherent dignity and equality of women. But this isn't the case in many parts of the world which seem happy camping out in Dodge as they appear to have trouble disassociating themselves from their Taliban-minded brethren.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminded us of the challenges women face in a speech she gave last week at the International Women of Courage Awards. "Women in Egypt and Tunisia and other nations have just as much right as the men to remake their governments, to make them responsive, accountable, transparent," Clinton said. "We will certainly be watching and the world will watch."

So we in the hinterlands of Kentucky will watch as well. And the Middle East isn't the only place with transparency and accountability problems as evidenced recently by the Kentucky House Leadership. They say they advocate for women's rights but unfortunately just killed a significant bill that would hinder their potential exploiters. In other words, since Roe v Wade, women seeking an abortion have had vital information and options withheld from them. As the salt-of-the-earth thinkers in my part of the world would quip, "What's up with that?"

Treating women as de facto second-class citizens is something that happens in places like Libya and Saudi Arabia. It shouldn't happen in Kentucky, and depriving them of critical, potentially life-changing information is wrong regardless of where they live.

According to a recent article in the Kentucky Citizen, pro-life and pro-family lobbyists in Frankfort assert that House Leaders have cut a deal with the pro-abortion wing of the Democratic Caucus to kill pro-life legislation. This explains why no significant pro-life law has passed since 2004 when the fetal homicide law was enacted. Just weeks ago, the trend continued as four other pro-life bills died in the House Health and Welfare Committee, a dangerous place for the unborn, mostly because it has been stacked with those who advocate not for abortion "choice," but with those who advocate for abortion.

Abortion is perhaps the most contentious of social issues, but our constitution guarantees the right to life. The Kentucky Bill of Rights, Section I, lists the first right of citizens which is "enjoying and defending their life." Before 1973, Kentucky was a safe place for unborn children. Today, some see it on par with parts of the world where women and children are treated with contempt.

In China, women live under a regime that systematically denies them of their basic human rights. Forced abortion and sterilization are common for women who have had more than one child. This egregious policy is responsible for sex-selection abortions that account for 32 million more males than female according to a 2009 New York Times story. It is technically against the law to use ultrasound tests to do this, but at least women in a Chinese abortionist's office are allowed to see their own ultrasound. That's not the case in Kentucky.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) recently called upon UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to pressure China to stop their "one-child" policy which leads to discarding millions of females simply because they are the wrong gender. "To fail to speak out against what is by far the worst gender-based violence in history would make a mockery of the UN's claim to promote women," Smith said. Comparing Kentucky policy to China or the Middle East for that matter may be apples to oranges, but can anyone really say they are for women's rights when they stand with those who would withhold information from them?

Secretary Clinton asserted in her speech that "women across the Middle East are insisting their voice be heard." To that I say bravo. Now, who will insist that the women of Kentucky be heard?

The latest issue of The Kentucky Citizen mentioned in this commentary, and more information pertaining to this topic, is available on While there, you can also see a YouTube video of

Click here to download the file directly. (PDF)

Richard Nelson is a Trigg County magistrate and lives near the Roaring Springs community with his wife and children. The views expressed in this commentary are the opinion of the commentator and don't necessarily reflect the views of WKMS.