Kentucky Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto of Abortion Ban

FRANKFORT, Ky. — New abortion restrictions passed by Republican lawmakers over the Democratic governor’s veto will force the only two abortion clinics in Kentucky to stop providing the procedures for women, at least temporarily, while the new law is challenged in court, abortion-rights activists said Wednesday.

Activism said that the law would be immediately sued by federal prosecutors. Attorneys for the clinics will ask for a blocking order to prevent the measures from being implemented to permit clinics to continue abortions during litigation. The two abortion clinics in Kentucky are in Louisville, the state’s largest city.

The GOP-led legislature overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes, the activists said the clinics will be unable to comply with the new restrictions because the state hasn’t set up a now-mandated regulatory process. This measure goes into effect immediately.

“Because the law is impossible to comply with, it amounts to a de facto abortion ban, thus violating patients’ federal right to abortion under Roe v. Wade,” abortion-rights groups said in a news release.

The release stated that Planned Parenthood (PCL) and the American Civil Liberties Union would file suits challenging this measure.

The chants of abortion-rights supporters echoed through Kentucky’s Capitol as the legislature swept aside the governor’s veto. The bill calls for regulating the dispensing of abortion pills, but the state hasn’t yet set up the registration process, the groups said. Before receiving medication, women would need to have their medical records checked.

This section is part of an anti-abortion push to restrict physicians’ ability to prescribe abortion pills via telemedicine. It comes as a response to increased pregnancies ending in early pregnancy.

Kentucky has approximately half the abortions that are performed due to medication.

Abortion-rights organizations stated that the measure includes new reporting requirements, which could violate patients privacy.

A key component of the bill prohibits abortion after fifteen weeks of gestation. Kentucky’s current law bans abortions following 20 weeks.

This proposed ban for 15 weeks is inspired by a Mississippi law that the Supreme Court is currently considering in a case that would dramatically restrict abortion rights. By taking the preemptive action, the bill’s supporters say Kentucky’s stricter ban would be in place if the Mississippi law is upheld.

About two dozen abortion-rights supporters chanted “bans off our bodies” at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Kentucky House chamber earlier Wednesday as the lawmakers debated the abortion measure. Both sides mentioned protestors, which could still be heard inside the chamber during the emotional debate.

“It absolutely makes me sick to have to listen to what’s going on out there,” Republican Rep. Norma Kirk-McCormick said.

The House overrode Governor. Andy Beshear’s veto on a 76-21 vote. This sent the measure to Senate for final approval. Republicans hold supermajorities within both chambers. Demonstrators marched to the opposite side of Capitol Wednesday night and shouted slogans as Senate discussed the matter. On a vote of 31-6, the Senate overrode the Senate’s veto.

Opponents condemned the bill because it did not exclude pregnancies due to rape, or incest.

“Those are violent crimes,” Democratic Rep. Rachel Roberts said. “This bill forces those women to be violated again.”

In pushing for the override, Kirk-McCormick said: “The abortion of a baby is plain wrong. It is my prayer that God will have mercy upon anyone who would endanger the lives of children. There’s no mercy for that baby in abortion.”

The strict limits on abortion weren’t the only social issues legislation taken up by Republican lawmakers during the frenzied veto session. Their large majority also allowed them to override a Beshear-veto to stop their attempt to prohibit transgender athletes participating in sport. Both chambers won the override vote over objections by large margins.

“This bill is discrimination in search of children,” Democratic Rep. Josie Raymond said.

Transgender girls or women would be barred from participating in sports that are based on their gender identity, from 6th grade to college. Supporters say it would ensure girls and women compete against other “biological females.”

“The athlete wants a fair playing field,” Republican Sen. Donald Douglas said. “They don’t care about all this other social stuff.”

Republican-led states have increasingly adopted transgender prohibitions for girls and women. However, several states have challenged the bans as violating federal law. The Kentucky proposal was opposed by many who predicted that it would be challenged in the courts.

“The fight won’t stop here,” said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign.

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