Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Signs Pro-Life Legislation as Court Hears Challenge

Kentucky Republican candidate for Governor, Gov. Matt Bevin, addresses the audience gathered at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin ceremonially signed into law four pieces of pro-life legislation as an appeals court heard a challenge brought by the ACLU regarding a state abortion safety law.

On Thursday, Bevin signed SB 9, the Heartbeat Bill, which bans an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected; SB 50, a measure that requires doctors to provide abortion pill patients with information regarding the reversal of the effects of the drug; HB 5, which bans abortion based on sex, race, or perceived disability of the unborn child; and HB 148, a measure that would ban abortion entirely in Kentucky should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

“I am deeply grateful to be governor of a state that so overwhelmingly values the sanctity of human life,” said the Republican governor. “Kentucky is leading the charge in this vitally important fight for the heart and soul of our great nation. We look forward to additional work with our strong legislative partners in building on this historic momentum, as we advance critical pro-life protections for the most vulnerable among us.”

During the signing ceremony, Richard Nelson, executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, presented Bevin with the organization’s “Friend of Life” award, honoring his work to protect unborn children in Kentucky.

“What many people don’t know is that Gov. Bevin’s legal team is defending duly enacted pro-life laws that aren’t being defended in court by the current attorney general,” said Nelson. “Gov. Bevin is going the extra mile by committing his time, his energy and his staff, to uphold laws intended to protect the unborn. Gov. Bevin is truly a friend of life to future Kentuckians.”

Nelson referred to Kentucky Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear, who has refused to defend the state’s pro-life legislation.

In 2017, following Beshear’s refusal to defend Kentucky’s law that banned abortions past the fifth month of pregnancy, Bevin posted on Facebook:

Attorney General Andy Beshear is once again refusing to do his job. Even though he is obligated by law to do so, AG Beshear refuses to defend the 20-week abortion ban, a bill that won the support of nearly 80 percent of the General Assembly, including 21 Democrats. AG Beshear would rather pander to his liberal, pro-abortion base than defend the law of Kentucky. I will, therefore, continue doing it for him by defending these pro-life bills. The citizens of Kentucky demand and deserve no less.

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, Bevin’s legal team presented oral arguments to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a law requiring an abortion clinic to maintain an abortion transfer agreement aimed at protecting the health and safety of women. The law requires abortion facilities to hold an agreement with a nearby hospital to transfer abortion patients to in case of an emergency. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the abortion lobby oppose such laws.

A federal judge struck down the transfer agreement law last year, but Kentucky appealed the decision.

Former Republican State Rep. Addia Wuchner, who was present during the oral arguments and supports the transfer agreement law, said the measure sets a basic standard of care for people seeking abortions.

“This shouldn’t be [about] those that would be supportive of abortion, or those who would be opponents to abortion: this is really a women’s health matter,” Wuchner said, reported WFPL. “It’s about making sure that when that transfer occurs, there’s already protocols set in place — emergency rooms don’t do abortions every day.”

However, according to the report, the ACLU’s response was directed not at safety in emergency situations, but the possibility that the only abortion clinic remaining in Kentucky — EMW Women’s Surgical Center — could shut down if it did not meet that basic standard of care.

“There would have been no clinic in the state of Kentucky, which is an incredible burden on patient’s ability to access care, about the most burdensome you can get,” said Heather Gatnarek, staff attorney with the ACLU state chapter. “There is no evidence put forth that patients who go to hospitals that have transfer agreements are better cared for than those without.”

Bevin’s legal team is also currently defending HB 454 (live dismemberment law), SB 9 (fetal heartbeat law), and HB 5 (anti-eugenics law) in federal court.

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