Kentucky passes law banning abortion after 15 weeks

Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature passed sweeping legislation this week that would make abortion illegal after 15 weeks of pr...

Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature passed sweeping legislation this week that would make abortion illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy and grant no exemptions for rape or incest.

The legislation, which looked like a restrictive Mississippi law which is being reviewed by the United States Supreme Courtcollected half a dozen bills introduced by Republicans in the State House and the Senate.

Opponents of the bill, passed on Tuesday, said the legislation was even more restrictive than measures passed in Mississippi, Idaho, Florida and Texas and could effectively end abortion in Kentucky, where there are two statewide abortion providers.

“It’s not hyperbolic,” said Tamarra Wieder, state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, in an interview Wednesday. “When the bill becomes law, we will have to stop our abortion services.”

The legislation was approved a week after Arizona passed similar legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks. Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona, a Republican, signed the measure into law on Wednesday. In doing so, he said, the state affirmed “Arizona’s commitment to protecting the lives of unborn children.”

Max Wise, a Republican senator from Kentucky who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, said the legislation “shows the strength of the pro-life movement in this Commonwealth.”

The legislation “will help take the necessary steps to value the sanctity of life and protect the unborn child,” he said in a statement.

Opponents of the bill in Kentucky have called out Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat who expressed support for abortion rights, to veto legislation. His office referred a request for comment to a March 14 briefing with reporters, when asked about the bills.

“I believe health care decisions should be made between a patient and their physician,” said Mr. Beshear. He said a bill that would require a young teenage girl “impregnated by a violent act” by a parent to potentially get that person’s permission to research options was “extreme”.

“That’s pretty wrong, and I think most Kentuckians don’t agree with that,” he said.

Mr Wise said Republicans had ‘super majority’ control of both houses.

“We easily have the votes to overrule his expected veto,” he said in his statement.

The votes followed weeks of intense debate between lawmakers as well as opponents and supporters of the bill.

During a hearing on the Senate portion of the legislation, Karen Berg, a state Senate Democrat and diagnostic radiologist, called the bill a “medical sham.”

“It does not follow medicine. He does not even claim to listen to medicine,” she says. She said lawmakers were “putting a gun to women’s heads.”

“Abortion will continue,” Dr. Berg said. “Women will continue to have efficacy on their own bodies whether you make it legal or not.”

Legislation passed in the House 74 to 19. The Senate passed the bill 29 to 0with seven of the state’s eight Senate Democrats walking out in protest rather than voting.

Addia Wuchner, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life, which helped draft the legislation, said she was “very happy to see the bill moving forward.”

She said the legislation would establish “best practices for women’s health”.

Ms Wuchner, a registered nurse and former Kentucky State Representative, said the purpose of the legislation is not to end abortion but to “ensure women have access to all care health they need”.

For example, she says, the bill requires women who want an abortion to have a blood test to determine if they are Rh-negative, which can lead to runaway immune reactions in Rh-positive babies born to Rh-negative mothers. Under the bill, a woman who tested negative would be injected with Rh immunoglobulin to prevent complications and miscarriages in future pregnancies, Ms Wuchner said.

But Ms. Wieder said such requirements are a “red herring” because state abortion providers provide that injection if needed.

“We already provide standard, quality care,” she said.

Instead, Ms. Wieder said, the legislation sets up an onerous certification process for pharmacists that would make it virtually impossible for them to provide medically-induced abortifacient drugs.

The legislation would also require fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages to be cremated or buried. The requirement means abortion providers would have to contract with a funeral home willing to take fetal tissue removed during an abortion, Ms Wieder said.

“We weren’t able to find any funeral homes that would work with us,” she said. “And in this environment, we don’t expect that.”

On Tuesday, opponents of the measure briefly interrupted the Senate session in an attempt to stop the vote, shouting from the balcony at lawmakers. “You are killing women,” one of them shouted.

After the vote, protesters gathered in the state house, holding pink signs that read: “Protect yourself, legal abortion” and chanting: “Ban our bodies.”

The ban would make exceptions for medical emergencies that “complicate pregnancy so much” that an abortion is required, according to the law.

Under Roe c. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortionstates cannot ban abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb.

With modern medical technology, viability is possible at around 23 weeks of pregnancy. But the six conservative Supreme Court justices seemed willing to drop Roe when they heard oral arguments in December on the Mississippi law that makes abortion illegal after 15 weeks.

Ms Wieder said Planned Parenthood lawyers were working with the American Civil Liberties Union to explore legal options.

In the meantime, Planned Parenthood is working on ways to transport people seeking abortions out of state for the procedure if the legislation becomes law, which is a near certainty, Ms. Wieder said.

She said, “It will be an incredible loss for Kentuckians.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Kentucky passes law banning abortion after 15 weeks
Kentucky passes law banning abortion after 15 weeks
Newsrust - US Top News
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