Abortions Now Effectively Banned in Kentucky After Republican Lawmakers Override Governor's Veto

Kentucky legislators enacted an abortion law containing so many restrictions that clinics say they can no longer perform the procedure

Abortion Ban
Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty

Abortions are effectively banned in Kentucky as of Wednesday after Republican lawmakers enacted an abortion law containing so many restrictions that the only two clinics in the state say they can no longer perform the procedure.

The law, called House Bill 3, took effect immediately after Republican legislators overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's vetoes by a vote of 76-21 in the House and 31-6 in the Senate.

The law requires patients to file "birth-death certificates" after their abortion, and physicians who perform the procedure have to submit lengthy documentation to the state about everything from the method of abortion to the patient's age, race, hometown and health background, along with their sexual partner's, which abortion rights groups have said is a violation of patient privacy.

The state has yet to set up any way to submit this information, forcing the state's two abortion clinics — both in Louisville — to stop providing abortions.

"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," Planned Parenthood said in a statement.

The bill also now bans abortions after just 15 weeks of pregnancy, in violation of Roe v. Wade. It's one of many 15-week abortion bans in Republican-led states around the country that are models off a Mississippi law that the Supreme Court is currently considering. Though it goes against the right to abortion guaranteed in Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion lawmakers are hoping that the newly conservative Court will overturn the landmark case.

It also bans telemedicine as a way to prescribe abortion pills, and under the law Kentucky will now be able to create a state website that publishes the names of any physicians who provide abortions. There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

A very limited number of abortions are performed at hospitals in the state, and it's not clear if these restrictions will affect those procedures.

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Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have already filed multiple lawsuits against the law, but for now it is in effect.

"The lawsuits argue that the law would create unnecessary abortion requirements while simultaneously making those requirements impossible to comply with given the immediate effective date of the law, forcing providers in the state to stop offering abortion services," Planned Parenthood said.

Gov. Beshear had vetoed the bill last week, but with a Republican supermajority in the legislature they were easily able to override it. Republican Rep. Norma Kirk-McCormick had argued for the override, saying that "the abortion of a baby is plain wrong." One of the few Democrats in the House, Rep. Rachel Roberts, condemned the bill, particularly for the lack of exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

"Those are violent crimes," Roberts said. "This bill forces those women to be violated again."

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