Kentucky has moved to ban abortions once the heartbeat of an unborn baby is detected, which is usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.
Governor Matt Bevin ceremonially signed Senate Bill 9 into law last Thursday, along with three other bills that focus on different pro-life objectives.
In a statement released last week, Bevin declared that he was “deeply grateful to be governor of a state that so overwhelmingly values the sanctity of human life.”
“Kentucky is leading the charge in this vitally important fight for the heart and soul of our great nation,” sated Bevin.
“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.”
Also titled “An Act relating to abortion and declaring an emergency,” SB 9 was introduced in January and passed the Senate in February by a vote of 31-6 and then the House in March by a vote of 71-19.
In addition to SB 9, Bevin also signed Senate Bill 50, which says doctors must present information on the reversal of medication abortions to patients; House Bill 5, which bans abortion procedures based on sex, race, or perceived disability; and House Bill 148, which will ban abortions in the state if the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Kentucky is one of a few states, among them Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio, which in recent months have passed laws that ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
While these bans usually are signed by Republican governors, in late May Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards signed a similar measure into law.
“In 2015, I ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight years,” said Edwards in a statement released before he signed the bill, according to CBS News. “As governor, I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue.”
Bevin’s ceremonial signing of the heartbeat abortion ban came as another Kentucky abortion law, one that requires abortion clinics to have a written agreement with a hospital to transfer any patient with a medical emergency, is being challenged in the courts.
Originally passed in 2017, the law has been held up by litigation. Last Thursday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard oral arguments, reported KPR.
The Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state over the transfer agreement law on behalf of the state’s lone abortion clinic, which would likely have to close if the law is enforced.
“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,” stated Heather Gatnarek of the ACLU of Kentucky to KPR last week.
“There is no evidence put forth that patients who go to hospitals that have transfer agreements are better cared for than those without.”