The Kentucky legislature enacted sweeping abortion restrictions that effectively end access to the procedure, overriding Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto and making the state the first in the nation without legal access to abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Kentucky’s Republican-controlled General Assembly overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to pass House Bill 3, which includes a spate of measures that opponents say will effectively end abortion rights in the state. The bill bans the distribution of abortion pills by mail, makes it much harder for minors seeking an abortion and calls for a certificate to be issued for each abortion. It also bans all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, among other measures.
The anti-abortion legislation, which provides no exceptions for rape or incest, went into effect immediately. The Kentucky House voted to override the veto 76-21, and the Senate voted 31-6.
“The Kentucky legislature was emboldened by a similar 15-week ban pending before the Supreme Court and other states passing abortion bans, including in Florida and Oklahoma,” Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, told WFPL, Louisville’s NPR affiliate. “We urge the court to block this law immediately and ensure that people in Kentucky can continue to access abortion care.”
The total effect of the package is that it will be nearly impossible for abortion providers to comply, making it too complex to carry out the procedure or too expensive. The state’s two abortion providers, Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, have said they will be unable to continue providing care unless a judge blocks the law.
“[The law] does not make abortion illegal, but because of the laundry list of restrictions… abortion providers will not be able to comply,” Nicole Erwin, a communications manager for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, told the Lexington Herald Leader.
Civil rights groups have vowed to sue, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
“Kentucky politicians aren’t fooling anyone,” Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates – East wrote Wednesday. “When you create 72 pages of restrictions that make it impossible to provide abortion care, that’s an abortion ban. And the courts need to stop it.”
The Kentucky legislation is the latest Republican effort to hamstring access to abortion across the nation, with some state’s passing laws that ban the procedure so early in a pregnancy that many wouldn’t yet realize they’re pregnant.
Oklahoma passed a near-total ban on abortion that was signed by the state’s Republican governor this week. That law goes into effect later this year.
Conservatives are anticipating the Supreme Court will issue a decision later this year that would uphold the restrictive new measures. Several states have anti-abortion laws waiting in the wings that would go into effect if it does.
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