FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Gov. Matt Bevin signed another pro-life bill into law Tuesday evening and has filed a response to a lawsuit filed to prevent it and another recently enacted abortion-related law from taking effect.
The measure, known as House Bill 5, would prohibit an abortion based on an unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin or disability, except in the case of a medical emergency or lethal fetal anomaly, where the child could not live after being delivered. It passed the House 67-25 on Feb. 26, with Senate approval on March 13, on a 32-4 vote. It was delivered to the governor on March 14 and signed into law on Tuesday.
Another piece of pro-life legislation, Senate Bill 9, would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as soon as six weeks after conception, according to testimony when the legislation was being heard in committee. It passed the Senate 31-6 on Feb. 14 and cleared the House by a 71-19 margin on March 14 and Gov. Bevin signed it the following day.
Both bills contained emergency clauses, meaning they took effect upon the governor’s signature. Otherwise, the effective date would be 90 days after lawmakers adjourn the session.
A lawsuit against both bills and a request for a temporary restraining order was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky on behalf of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, a short time after SB 9 was signed. U.S. District Judge David Hale granted the request for 14 days, on March 15 stating, “a temporary restraining order will preserve the status quo and allow the Court to more thoroughly assess the merits of the case.”
In his four-page ruling, Hale said, “Although Senate Bill 9 states that ‘an emergency is declared to exist,’ little explanation accompanies this declaration. Accordingly, the Court finds that the reasonable period of delay resulting from this Temporary Restraining Order is necessary to permit meaningful review, with minimal impact to others.”
In its filing opposing the action, the Bevin administration said, "EMW and its abortionists have responded with a novel claim: women have a constitutional right to undergo race-based abortions, gender-based abortions, and disability-based abortions. In [the] plaintiffs' view, somewhere in the Fourteenth Amendment's penumbra lies a secret protection of eugenics. That is a perverse distortion of Roe v. Wade and its progeny."
In each of its four arguments, EMW has failed to justify the need for a temporary restraining order.
Additionally, while EMW claims that enjoining HB 5 will cause "substantial harm to others," the Bevin administration contends that the "others" harmed are unborn children who will be forced to undergo the inhumane disgrace of being aborted because of their race, their gender, or their non-lethal disability.
The administration also states in its filing that, a temporary restraining order would also cause "substantial harm" to the medical profession in the Commonwealth. The Bevin administration asserts that "doctors must be viewed as healers, not as enablers and practitioners of eugenics and, more specifically, of overt racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and disability discrimination."
A hearing has not been scheduled.