Kentucky lawmakers overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a pro-life bill on Tuesday, giving the attorney general power to hold abortion facilities accountable to the law.
According to The Lane Report, the legislation passed 73-20 in the state House and 32-5 in the state Senate – one of six bills that lawmakers voted to override the governor’s vetoes on this week.
Sponsored by state Rep. Joseph Fichter, R-Fort Thomas, House Bill 2 will allow state Attorney General Daniel Cameron to seek civil and criminal penaties against abortion facilities if they do not comply with state laws. Currently, that power rests with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which is led by the governor’s appointees.
It also prevents abortion facilities from describing an elective abortion as an “emergent or urgent medical procedure during the state of emergency declared in response to COVID-19.”
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In a statement online, Cameron, a pro-life Republican, praised lawmakers for overriding the governor’s veto and “allowing our office to ensure that abortion clinics follow the law.” Earlier, he also said Fichter’s bill will give his office “clear legal authority” to act “when an abortion provider breaks the law.”
When Fischer introduced his bill, he criticized Beshear, a pro-abortion Democrat, for showing “no interest in enforcing or defending” pro-life state laws. Lawmakers also accused the governor of showing favoritism to the abortion industry. Beshear received campaign donations from the largest abortion facility in the state.
Beshear defended his decision in his veto message, saying: “The office of the Attorney General does not have the expertise or the necessary structure to directly regulate medical procedures or health care providers. Regulation of legal medical procedures is done by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.”
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky also criticized state lawmakers for passing the bill. They argued that it will “push constitutionally protected abortion care out of reach, bit by bit,” the AP reports.
The bill also passed the state legislature in 2020, but Beshear vetoed it. In November, Republicans won additional seats in the legislature and now have enough votes to override the governor’s vetoes.
Initially, the bill passed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, when many governors ordered temporary halts to non-essential medical care.
At the end of March 2020, Cameron urged Eric Friedlander, secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, to hold abortion facilities accountable to the COVID-19 health restrictions, WBKO reported at the time.
“… Kentucky’s abortion providers are violating his ban on elective medical procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to perform abortions,” Cameron said in a statement. “Kentucky’s current ban on elective medical procedures exists to further the mandated policy of social distancing and to help conserve medical resources for use in fighting COVID-19.”
He urged abortion facilities to join the thousands of medical professionals across Kentucky who were canceling and postponing elective and non-essential procedures to help slow the spread of the virus and conserve medical supplies.
However, the only abortion facility in the state at the time, EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, continued to abort unborn babies.