This past week has been one of ups and downs for the pro-life movement in Kentucky. Life-saving legislation has been passed in the state legislature, but is now facing backlash which may prevent it from being used.
Two pro-life bills have successfully passed the Kentucky’s House and Senate.
The first, House Bill 5, is an anti-discrimination bill that makes it illegal to obtain an abortion due to “an unborn child's sex, race, color, national origin, or disability."
The second, Senate Bill 9, is a heartbeat bill -- the kind we have seen recently in other states -- which requires anyone seeking an abortion to first undergo testing to see if the unborn child has a heartbeat, and would then “prohibit a person from performing an abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.”
Unfortunately, both are facing significant opposition.
Senate Bill 9 was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin Friday, March 15, 2019 but was shot down the same day by federal judge David Hale. As The New York Times reports, Hale has put a temporary hold on enforcement of the law until he is able to hold a hearing.
In addition, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state’s last remaining abortion clinic against both of the bills.
“We think this is a very straightforward legal issue,” the organization’s representative told NYT. “States can’t ban abortion. It has been well settled over 40 years ago in Roe v. Wade.”
However, Gov. Bevin has been quick to fight back:
“We realize the @ACLU is eager to attack a KY bill protecting unborn children from being killed on the basis of race, gender, or disability… But maybe they should have waited to file their legal challenge until AFTER HB 5 is actually signed into LAW...? Perhaps a quick civics refresher from Schoolhouse Rock! may be helpful to them...” he tweeted Friday.
It seems clear that the governor has no intention of backing down.
Will the judge’s temporary suspension of the heartbeat law hold? Will Gov. Bevin sign the anti-discrimination bill as well, or will he wait until the fate of the ACLU’s lawsuit is decided? We simply do not know yet. But it does look like the tension is building over the federal imposition of Roe v. Wade, and for the moment Kentucky is on the front lines.