Sunday, September 24, 2023

Kentucky is the first state to effectively end abortions

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Kentucky ended almost all abortions in the state on Wednesday far-reaching law which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, restricts the access of minors to the procedure and counters drug abortions. It is now the state with the strictest abortion restrictions in the United States.

The new law, which will take effect immediately, will force the state to two remaining abortion clinics in Louisville due to heavy new demands on doctors, forcing Kentuckians to look elsewhere for abortion care.

And it comes as Republican-led lawmakers across the country are passing seemingly unconstitutional, draconian anti-abortion laws pending a forthcoming Supreme Court decision that is widely expected to eliminate Americans’ right to abortion. Oklahoma, for example, recently passed a law similar to Kentucky’s that imposes an almost complete ban on abortion except in cases where the pregnant person’s life is at risk β€” though it’s not scheduled to go into effect for a few more months. to become.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, veto the bill last week, arguing that it is likely unconstitutional, due to the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which recognized the fundamental right of a pregnant person to request an abortion. However, the Court also ruled that states can still impose restrictions on the procedure to protect the health of the pregnant woman and the potential life of a fetus once it can survive outside the womb.

Beshear also argued that Kentucky’s law should have included exclusions for rape and incest victims, and that the law cannot be enforced without additional state funding. But the state house and senate, both controlled by Republicans, overturned his veto Wednesday night.

β€œThe Kentucky legislature has been encouraged by a similar 15-week ban pending the Supreme Court and other states passing abortion bans, including Florida and Oklahoma, but this law and other similar laws remain unconstitutional,” Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.

Thursday, the ACLU and other reproductive rights groups submitted legal challenges to the ban, which they also consider to be unconstitutional. But if the Supreme Court were to be overthrown? Roe v. Wade, as widely expected, the new ban could survive, as well as similar anti-abortion laws passed in other states. That will force the Kentuckians to travel to have an abortion, which will be prohibitively expensive for some. And it will exacerbate the challenges black, Hispanic and Indigenous communities, as well as low-income and rural communities, have already faced in accessing abortions in the state.

What’s on the bill?

Aside from imposing a 15-week abortion ban, a policy that copies a Mississippi law currently before the Supreme Court, the new law immediately introduces a slew of new restrictions and requirements for physicians that effectively make it impossible for them to have abortions. to continue performing in Kentucky.

For example, the law makes it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion on a minor unless they have written permission from a parent or legal guardian, even in cases of incest.

It also imposes a host of new reporting rules on physicians. They must disclose new personal health information, including how many times a patient has been pregnant before and whether they have tested positive for sexually transmitted diseases. If a provider fails to do so, they could face civil penalties and their medical license may be suspended or revoked. The ACLU has argued that reporting such details violates a patient’s privacy β€” and that could ultimately stop people from seeking medical care.

Physicians also must register with the state before being allowed to administer drug abortions, which are usually performed by a combination of the FDA-approved drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. About half of it of all abortions in Kentucky are drug abortions. But the state hasn’t set up a system to register yet, meaning it’s impossible for doctors to comply. The state has not yet announced its plans to do so.

And doctors who perform nonsurgical procedures must maintain hospitalization rights near where they perform those procedures. Because local hospitals can deny privileges to abortion providers as they see fit, it makes it impossible for pregnant people to have an abortion in certain parts of the state. The Supreme Court has previously scrapped laws with similar requirements in: Texas and Louisiana as unconstitutional.

“Make no mistake: The sole purpose of the Kentucky legislature with this bill is to close health centers and completely eliminate access to abortion in the state,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Great Northwest said in a statement.

The success of legal challenges against this law is questionable

Abortion advocates have asked a federal court in Kentucky to block the law for at least as long as their lawsuit is pending. The judge could rule in a few days. But the Supreme Court could undermine their legal challenge before it has a chance to make its way through the justice system, if the judges in the case rule in favor of the state of Mississippi. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

A decision in the case is expected before the end of the parliamentary term, which usually ends in late June or early July.

The case, a conscious challenge to roe deer, concerns a law in Mississippi enacted in 2018 that banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with minor exceptions for medical emergencies or a serious fetal abnormality. The court’s Conservative majority could use the case as a means of overthrowing in part or completely Roe.

Many red states are up for that opportunity. That includes Kentucky, one of over 20 states with laws that could immediately make abortion illegal, with exceptions for cases where the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

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