Legislative Update 

Two thousand and twenty has changed and challenged our way of life, our country, our world. In some ways, things have seemed upside down with churches closed and abortion clinics open. In our January/February Newsletter, we promised to touch on the status of pro-life legislation in the courts. The “live dismemberment” ban and the Heartbeat Bill have been challenged by pro-abortion activists and the abortion clinic, but these aren’t the only developments to report on.

In April of this year, Governor Beshear vetoed proposed legislation that would have required doctors to provide life-sustaining care to babies that survive failed abortion attempts. The reason he gave for the veto was that he felt current law already protected the rights of infants in the state.

Beshear’s veto also applied to a proposal to put abortion providers fully under the oversight of the state’s Attorney General. While abortion providers are currently under the Attorney General’s authority, the official must first gain approval from Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services before enacting any regulatory requirement or change. One result of this veto is the continuation of abortions during the pandemic while most other medical service providers were required to close their doors. 

In a 2-1 split decision earlier this month the 6th Circuit Court ruled against Kentucky’s law that banned the gruesome practice of live-dismemberment abortions, requiring so called fetal demise before dilation and evacuation abortion procedures performed after the first trimester. The EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville challenged the law claiming that it put the mothers at greater risk due to the additional procedure requirement. Attorney General Daniel Cameron has already asked the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rehear the case. “We’re exhausting every possible option to ensure that this law continues to be defended and is ultimately enforced,” said Cameron.  “The law extends compassion and dignity to the unborn by ensuring they are not subjected to the horror and pain of the dismemberment process while still alive. We would never allow the dismemberment of any other living being, and we are going to continue fighting, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, so that it can’t happen to unborn children.”

Kentucky’s Heartbeat ban, passed in 2019 as Senate Bill 9, has been enjoined by Federal District Judge David Hale. States whose similar bans have been appealed have been ruled unconstitutional. For example, Mississippi’s heartbeat ban, did not survive the scrutiny of a 3-judge panel of the 5th Circuit who ruled that it unconstitutionally outlawed pre-viability abortions.

More recently, we’ve observed the U.S. Supreme Court decide in a 5-to-4 ruling that Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges is unconstitutional. Observers were surprised to see the Chief Justice John Roberts abandon his dissent in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstadt (579 U.S. ___ 136 S. Ct. 2292 (2016)), to side with the liberal justices.

We’ve seen disheartening decisions in recent months by the courts and in our Governor, who treated abortion as “essential” and vetoed pro-life legislation passed by this year’s General Assembly, but in the midst of that we also see light and hope in hearts changed and in an Attorney General who is unwavering in his support of the unborn.  Thank you for joining us in prayer and support as we stand together to turn hearts and minds toward life and the defense of the unborn.