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Kentucky legislature overrides governor’s veto of sweeping abortion bill

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky swiftly announced plans to challenge the law.

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 medication abortion be provided only by a qualified physician and bars the drugs from being sent via mail.
Under the bill, the abortion drugs cannot be given to a patient without obtaining their “informed consent” at least 24 hours prior, which involves signing a state document that includes acknowledgment that it “may be possible to reverse the effects of the abortion-inducing drug if desired but that this should be done as soon as possible” — a claim that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says is “not based on science” and does “not meet clinical standards.”

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

Current statutes do not allow for such abortions unless an attending physician obtains the “informed written consent” of the minor and a parent or legal guardian, the minor is emancipated or a court grants a minor’s petition for an abortion. The bill now makes it a requirement for 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 providing consent.

Beshear had vetoed the bill last week, arguing that it is “likely unconstitutional” since the US Supreme Court had ruled similar statutes in Texas and Louisiana unconstitutional.

“Specifically, House Bill 3 requires physicians performing nonsurgical procedures to maintain hospital admitting privileges in geographical proximity to the location where the procedure is performed. The Supreme Court has ruled such requirements unconstitutional as it makes it impossible for women, including a child who is a victim of rape or incest, to obtain a procedure in certain areas of the state,” the governor wrote in his veto message delivered last week.

The ACLU said in a statement following the veto override that it intends to challenge the 15-week abortion ban included in the bill and argued that the legislation also requires registration to provide medication abortions, despite the state not having such a system in place.

“The lawsuits will argue 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 care services,” ACLU spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw said. “Because the law is impossible to comply with, it amounts to a de facto abortion ban, violating patients’ federal right to abortion care under Roe v. Wade.”

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