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Kentucky Legislature Overrides Beshear’s Abortion Bill Veto

The bill was filed Thursday with the secretary of state’s office and, because of the emergency clause, it takes effect immediately.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky quickly challenged the law, each arguing that it violates the Constitution because it includes sweeping new regulations on abortion providers that constitute a “ban on facto” of abortion in the state.

House Bill 3 prohibits a physician from performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in a medical emergency. It does not include exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

The measure requires that drugs used in a medical abortion be provided only by a qualified physician and prohibits the mailing of drugs.
Under the bill, abortion drugs cannot be given to a patient without obtaining her “informed consent” at least 24 hours in advance, which involves signing a state document acknowledging that she “may be possible to reverse the effects of medication abortion if desired, but that this should be done as soon as possible” – a claim which, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is “not based on the science” and “does not meet clinical standards”.

The legislation also changes Kentucky law that deals with minors obtaining abortions.

Current laws do not permit such abortions unless an attending physician obtains “informed written consent” from the minor and a parent or legal guardian, the minor is emancipated, or a court grants the petition. of a minor for an abortion. The bill now requires a consenting parent or legal guardian to make a “reasonable attempt to notify” any other parent with joint or physical custody at least 48 hours before giving consent.

Legal challenges after governor argues bill is unconstitutional

The ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky, filing on behalf of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, argued in their complaint that “Kentucky abortion providers, including the plaintiff, are at immediate risk of committing crimes or face serious fines, civil liability, or revocation of their licenses if they continue to abort.”

Planned Parenthood, on behalf of its affiliate clinic in Louisville, also argued that the law “imposes immediate potential for criminal penalties, civil liability … and potential loss of facility and medical licenses due to noncompliance.” adding, “The result is an unconstitutional ban on abortion in Kentucky because the plaintiff (along with the other clinic offering abortions in Kentucky) must immediately stop providing abortions.”

Each asked the court to block the law immediately.

The governor had vetoed the bill last week, noting the lack of “exceptions or exclusions” in the bill for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

“Rape and incest are violent crimes. Victims of these crimes should have options, not be further scarred by a process that exposes them to more harm from their rapists or treats them themselves. like delinquents,” Beshear wrote.

He also argued that HB 3 is “probably unconstitutional” since the United States Supreme Court has ruled similar laws in Texas and Louisiana unconstitutional.

“Specifically, House Bill 3 requires physicians performing non-surgical procedures to maintain hospital admitting privileges in geographic proximity to where the procedure is being performed. The Supreme Court has ruled these requirements unconstitutional because they make it impossible for women, including a child who is a victim of rape or incest, to obtain proceedings in certain areas of the state,” the governor wrote in his veto message issued last week.

In an interview with CNN, State Rep. Nancy Tate, the Republican sponsor of the bill, disputed the governor’s arguments made in her veto message, saying her bill had been “thoroughly reviewed” and that his intention was to “ensure that if a minor has been affected by rape or incest that the justice system gets involved.”

Tate told CNN that her bill would not end the state’s ability to have abortions, but Nicole Erwin, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates in Kentucky, which operates a clinic in Louisville, said she “will not be able to provide abortion care until there is a remedy from the Court.”

A majority of both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly was needed to override the governor’s veto. The Kentucky State House voted 76-21 on Wednesday to override the veto, and the state Senate then voted 31-6.

Similar to other 15 week bans

Kentucky’s new law is similar to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that is currently before the US Supreme Court.

“When the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi legislation as constitutional, because I guess, I’m absolutely confident that will happen, that we will have a pro-life law in place that will not be subject to a legal challenge in good faith,” Tate said, referring to HB 3.

Kentucky joins the number of other red states that have passed laws or advanced legislation that restrict abortion access this year.

Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill last month that also bans abortions in the state after 15 weeks. The bill goes into effect 90 days after the end of Arizona’s legislative session.
And on Thursday, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis signed a similar bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy without an exemption for rape, incest or human trafficking.

This story was updated with additional developments on Thursday.


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