In May 2019, links to and screenshots of Kentucky HB 148 began circulating on social media, often alongside posts baffled about the bill’s purported provisions mandating that women in the state “shall acquire a signed and notarized statement from a practitioner licensed pursuant to this chapter each month that states whether she is pregnant or not pregnant”:
Circulating alongside many of the posts was a link to a document [PDF] on the website for Kentucky’s legislature, appearing to represent a piece of proposed legislation. Marked with “Unofficial Document” at the top, it read:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
KENTUCKY GENERAL ASSEMBLY
2019 REGULAR SESSION
Amend printed copy of HB 148/HCS 1
On page 3, between lines 3 and 4, by inserting the following:
“SECTION 2. A NEW SECTION OF KRS CHAPTER 311 IS CREATED TO READ AS FOLLOWS: All women who are Kentucky residents, and of child bearing age, shall acquire a signed and notarized statement from a practitioner licensed pursuant to this chapter each month that states whether she is pregnant or not pregnant. If pregnant, the signed and notarized statement shall provide the status of the pregnancy. The woman shall submit the signed and notarized statement to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services each month. Any woman who fails to provide this monthly signed and notarized statement to the cabinet shall be subject to arrest and fines. Any woman who is pregnant and fails to provide this monthly signed and notarized statement to the cabinet will be fitted with an ankle monitor for the duration of the pregnancy in addition to any arrest and fines.”; and Renumber subsequent section accordingly[.]
The document as it appeared on the Kentucky legislature’s site led many who clicked through to the page to believe it was sincere, authentic legislation. The manner in which it was worded suggested that the “pregnant/not pregnant” proposal was an amendment to separate legislation, but most sharers just shared screenshots and links to that page.
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian was listed as the amendment’s sponsor. In February 2019, Spectrum News 1 Louisville reported on it in an article headlined “Rep. Marzian files protest amendment that calls for a pregnant women registry.” That story noted that the amendment was to HB 148, a bill that would ban abortion in Kentucky in the event that Roe v. Wade was overturned.
The amendment to the bill satirically proposed what was essentially a place for pregnant women to register:
Fed up with men trying to control women’s’ bodies, Representative Mary Lou Marzian is filing a floor amendment to Representative Joe Fischer’s abortion bill.
Fischer’s bill, HB 148, would ban all abortion in the Commonwealth should Roe v. Wade be overturned.
Marzian’s amendment says all women of childbearing age must get a notarized statement from the doctor monthly, stating if they are pregnant or not. Any woman who doesn’t give that paper to the Cabinet of Heath and Family services can be fined or arrested. If CHFS finds a pregnant woman doesn’t turn in her paper, she is to be fitted with an ankle monitor for her pregnancy.
The amendment was filed in jest, but the Democrat from Louisville says the thought behind it is real.
Marzian said, “I’m filing an amendment number one, because it’s such hypocrisy, and number two, to demonstrate; if they want government in your life, which a lot of these folks say we want less government, then we’ll have it in your life…”
Kentucky’s HB 148 was a legitimate bill which would trigger a statewide ban on abortion in the event that the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. In protest of that bill, Marzian filed an amendment requiring women to report each month whether they were pregnant or not pregnant. Marzian’s bill was never intended to be sincere, but was rather borne of frustration with legislation to ban abortion in Kentucky. HB 148, the original bill, was signed into law by Kentucky’s governor in March 2019. Marzian’s amendment was not included in the final version.