abortion

Kentucky's New Abortion Law Faces First Legal Test

Mar 23, 2017
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky's new law requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound exam before an abortion faces its first legal challenge Thursday in a federal courtroom.

A judge will hear arguments on whether to order a temporary halt to the law passed by the state's Republican-led Legislature and signed by Gov. Matt Bevin in January.

The law requires abortion providers to display and describe ultrasound images to pregnant women, though women can avert their eyes. The procedure also seeks to detect the fetal heartbeat, but women can ask that the volume of the heartbeat be reduced or turned off.

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said his office is actively defending a new abortion rule recently signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin. The law requires doctors to show women seeking an abortion pictures of an ultrasound, and describe the images to the patient.

Governor Bevin has accused Beshear of breaking his promise to defend the ultrasound law.

It's the latest incident in an ongoing feud between the Republican Governor and the Democratic Attorney General. Some of the other diasagreements have been about the reorganization of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees, as well as certain cuts to higher education funding Bevin proposed.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the state’s only abortion provider are suing the state over the ultrasound regulations. Beshear said the parties in the lawsuit are not named properly.

LRC Public Information

Lawmakers have given initial approval to a plan to “defund” Kentucky’s Planned Parenthood locations in Lexington and Louisville by putting the organization at the back of the line for federal family planning dollars.

Bill sponsor Sen. Max Wise said the organization had a “notorious history as an abortion provider” and said he filed the bill in reaction to undercover videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal organs — allegations denied by Planned Parenthood and later debunked.

“I come before you today thankfully more optimistic about the prospects of protecting unborn life than I was last year when the committee heard this similar bill,” Wise said.

Mary Meehan

Dona Wells walked through what’s left of the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Boxes fill what use to be offices. Sterilized medical supplies are in disarray. A light flickers on and off in the back hallway. She doesn’t see a point in fixing it. At 75, she still runs 25 miles a week, but Wells is tired.

“I was going to retire anyway, probably this year,” she said. But I wanted to do it on my terms, not Gov. Bevin’s terms.”

That would be Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who recently signed two bills into law further restricting abortion services: one requiring an ultrasound as part of abortions and another prohibiting the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The final straw for Wells came in the form of a new license requirement from the state. Wells has been battling restrictive rules for most of the clinic’s 28 years, but the battle is over now. She’s closing the clinic.

Kentucky LRC

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next month on a lawsuit seeking to block a new Kentucky law that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

The Courier-Journal reports that U.S. District Judge David Hale has set the hearing for Feb. 16. He'll hear arguments on whether he should order a temporary halt to the law passed by Kentucky legislators this month.

The measure took effect after Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law. The new law also requires that abortion providers display and describe the ultrasound images to pregnant women, even if the women avert their eyes, which is permissible.

Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear says he will not defend the state if it is sued over a law passed by the state legislature last week banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But Beshear, the Kentucky’s top law enforcement official, said he would defend the state in a lawsuit against another new law requiring abortion doctors to narrate an ultrasound as they perform the procedure on women seeking abortions.

Both laws went into effect over the weekend after Gov. Matt Bevin signed the legislation during a speedy first-week of the newly Republican-led General Assembly.

J. Tyler Franklin

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the commonwealth’s only abortion provider are suing the state over a new abortion law that requires a doctor to conduct an ultrasound and provide a fetal description to a woman seeking an abortion.

The legislation was among a handful of conservative priorities rushed out of the General Assembly last week by Republicans, who had total control of the legislative process for the first time in state history after sweeping elections this fall.

William Sharp, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kentucky, called the law unconstitutional.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The General Assembly gave final approval to a pair of controversial anti-abortion bills on Saturday as Republicans quickly cleared conservative legislation by the end of their first week controlling the legislative process in Kentucky.

Women would be prevented from getting abortions during or after the 20th week of pregnancy under one bill. The other would require doctors performing an abortion to conduct an ultrasound of the woman and verbally describe the fetus before the procedure.

Both bills would take effect once they are signed by Gov. Matt Bevin, which he has indicated he will do.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Lawmakers gave initial approval to two anti-abortion bills Wednesday as Republicans assume control of the legislative process and fast-track conservative policies previously stymied by Democrats.

Protesters came out in force to oppose the measures during committee hearings, at times groaning when elected officials argued in favor of the measures and cheering lawmakers who voted against them.

The bills could be signed into law as soon as this Saturday. Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover said the legislature would likely meet over the weekend to give final passage to what Republicans consider high-priority legislation.

LRC Public Information

Women wouldn’t be able to get abortions if they are more than 20 weeks pregnant under a bill proposed in the Kentucky Senate Tuesday.

The legislation has a good chance of passing the full legislature and governor’s desk, which are controlled by Republicans for the first time in state history.

Senate President Robert Stivers said that the bill would protect unborn fetuses because they don’t get to decide whether to go forth with an abortion.

“There is at this point in time two viable beings in this decision,” Stivers said. “One had a choice early on to make a decision to conceive or not conceive. But once conception starts there becomes another life involved. And the legislature has its ability to control how that life may proceed or how it may be terminated.”

ky.gov

An abortion clinic in Lexington will remain closed after the Kentucky Supreme Court denied an appeal from the facility.

EMW Women’s Clinic closed in June following a legal challenge by Governor Matt Bevin.

Bevin said the clinic couldn’t provide abortions until it received a license from the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Lawyers for EMW have argued the facility is a women’s health clinic that doesn’t need a specific abortion license.

But the unanimous ruling by the state Supreme Court Thursday upholds a Court of Appeals’ ruling that sided with the Governor.

The Herald-Leader reports the decision doesn’t involve the legality of abortion, but instead says EMW exists solely to provide abortions and is subject to the state licensing rules.

The clinic is the only abortion provider east of Louisville.

Jacob Ryan

A judge has dismissed Gov. Matt Bevin’s lawsuit that accused a Louisville Planned Parenthood facility of performing abortions without a license.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry ruled that the clinic had received approval from Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services days before Bevin took office.

“Based simply on a change in Cabinet personnel, it defies reason that an abortion facility which opened based on the approval of the Cabinet’s [Office of the Inspector General] may be then said to have willfully violated the law by that same Cabinet,” Perry wrote.

In its lawsuit, the Bevin administration alleged that Planned Parenthood’s required documentation of an emergency hospital and ambulance service were “a complete sham.”

Bevin’s office also alleged that Maryellen Mynear, the former inspector general of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, “ignored or overlooked” the allegedly deficient abortion license application.

The state said the previous administration erroneously told Planned Parenthood that abortion clinics could begin operations without a license.

Federal Judge Blocks Indiana Abortion Law

Jun 30, 2016
Wikipedia

A federal judge has blocked a new Indiana law that bans abortions sought because of a fetus’s genetic abnormalities.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt released a ruling Thursday that grants the preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. The law was to set to take effect Friday.

Pratt said the state doesn’t have the authority to limit a woman’s reasons for ending a pregnancy. She said the Indiana law would go against U.S. Supreme Court rulings that states may not prohibit a woman from seeking an abortion before fetal viability.

Indiana and North Dakota are the only states with laws banning abortions that are sought due to fetal genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, or because of the race, sex or ancestry of a fetus. The Indiana law also requires that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

Creative Commons

Kentucky’s restrictions on women seeking abortions and providers could be challenged now that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion law for putting an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to the procedure.

State law requires women to have “informed consent” meetings with a doctor 24 hours before the procedure and also requires abortion clinics to have a “transfer agreement” with an ambulance service to take patients to a hospital in case of a medical emergency.

Elizabeth Nash, an associate with the abortion rights group Guttmacher Institute, said the ruling opens the door for people to challenge abortion laws if they limit access.

“When there is evidence that shows the harms to women in accessing services, either because the restriction makes it more difficult to access abortion or because the clinic shuts down, then those burdens can be weighed against any sort of potential benefit the law may have,” she said.

The state legislature recently passed a law that revamped Kentucky’s “informed consent” policy — women are now required to have an in-person or video conference meeting with a doctor 24 hours prior to the procedure. Previously abortion-seekers could have the meeting over the phone.

Flickr/Creative Commons/J. Stephen Conn

Abortion rights advocates say Indiana Gov. Mike Pence should veto a bill that would ban abortions sought because the fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome.

About 30 activists spoke out against the measure Monday at the Statehouse and delivered a petition with about 2,700 signatures asking Pence to reject the bill.

After the measure was passed last week, a national group representing gynecologists wrote a letter to Pence also urging a veto.

The governor could allow the law to go into effect by simply not acting on it within seven days after the bill is filed to his office. As of Monday morning, the bill had not yet reached Pence's desk.

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