By Dave Andrusko
I try to make it a hard and fast rule to give full credit to sources that provide useful information on pro-life legislation. With that in mind, hats off to Tom Latek.
Writing at Kentucky Today over the weekend, he did a superb job summarizing legislation that has already become law and the two bills yet to become law. All four items are territory NRL News Today has explored in previous posts.
For outsiders or those Kentuckians who don’t follow the legislature closely, Latek begins
State lawmakers returned home for a 10-day recess and will return to Frankfort March 29-30 for the final two days of the 2021 General Assembly.
Those final two days are reserved for the chambers to vote on any vetoes issued by the governor. However, they can still take up any legislation they wish, so any bills and resolutions still pending are not officially dead until the chambers adjourn for good, on March 30, probably around 11:59 pm.
What’s left for pro-lifers to pass and navigate around pro-abortion Gov. Andy Beshear and time limitations?
The first is an amendment to the state Constitution. According to Kentucky Right to Life, “A summary of the bill says: Propose to create a new section of the Constitution of Kentucky to state that Kentucky’s Constitution does not secure or protect a right to abortion or funding of abortion.”
As a proposed constitutional amendment, it is not subject to approval or veto by the governor. Instead, if passed by the Senate, it would go on the November 2022 ballot for voters to decide as there are no elections in 2021.
HB 91 flew through the state House “and has had two of the three required readings in the Senate but is still in the State and Local Government Committee, which needs to approve it before it can reach the Senate floor.”
The second unfinished piece of pro-life business is SB 83. It’s a guarantee of the right to conscience and would (as Latek writes)
would prohibit discrimination against medical care providers who decline to perform procedures that violate their conscience, grant providers the right not to participate in or pay for services that violate their conscience, exempt providers from liability for exercising these rights and establish a civil cause of action for persons injured by violations of these provisions. It has two readings in the Senate, but still requires floor action as well as House approval.
The two that are already law include the “Born Alive” bill, Senate Bill 9.
“Whether it’s an abortion that didn’t work, or a premature birth, or whatever the circumstance might be, if a child is born alive, it must be given medical care consistent with whatever its needs are,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton. “This doesn’t change the standard of care, it doesn’t establish what that care must be, because medical professionals need to make that decision where they are at that moment, under the circumstances.”
Knowing the votes were there to override his veto, Gov. Beshear allowed SB 9 to become law without his signature.
Gov. Beshear vetoed the other bill—House Bill 2—but was easily overridden. HB2 gives Attorney General Daniel Cameron “the power to seek civil and criminal penalties for any violation of Kentucky’s abortion laws,” as the Associated Press reported.
A fuller explanation came from Kentucky Right to Life which explained that HB2 “adds additional health and safety assurances and protection for women seeking to terminate their pregnancy by allowing the Attorney General oversight and to act unencumbered to investigate abortion facilities and take action if violations of the law have occurred.”
And because HB 2 “contained an emergency clause, it took effect immediately following the override votes,” Latek reports.