Kentucky governor signs bill banning abortions on basis of race, sex, disability

Kentucky governor signs bill banning abortions on basis of race, sex, disability
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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Tuesday signed into law an anti-abortion measure that blocks women from ending their pregnancies due to the gender, race, or disability of the fetus.

The measure is already facing a federal lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which argues the state is blocking a woman’s right to the procedure because it “disapproves of her reason,” The Associated Press reported.

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State law now requires doctors to certify in writing that their patient — to their knowledge — did not want to end her pregnancy over concern about the fetus's sex, race, color, national origin or disability.

Doctors that violate the law would risk losing their medical license or facing felony prosecution. Women receiving the procedure would not face penalties, AP noted.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of the only abortion clinic in the state — EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville.

Bevin’s legal team has filed a response to the lawsuit, calling it a “perverse distortion” of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

“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,” the legal team responded.

Supporters of the bill, including its lead sponsor, Kentucky state Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty (R), say it prevents fetuses from being discriminated against because of their disability, gender or race.

Prunty said abortions in this cases are “reminiscent of the social evil of eugenics.”

The bill is one of two anti-abortion measures passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature that Bevin has signed into law this month.

The governor on Friday signed into law a fetal “heartbeat” law that would have banned abortions six weeks into pregnancy.

Shortly after Bevin signed the bill, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to block the law.

Judge David Hale from the Western District of Kentucky ruled that the law was potentially unconstitutional and delayed its implementation for at least 14 days until a hearing can be held.

The law, one of the strictest pieces of anti-abortion legislation in the country, bans the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The ACLU filed an additional lawsuit over that measure, arguing that many women don’t even know they are pregnant by six weeks into their pregnancy.

The civil rights groups said the bill would ban 90 percent of abortions in the state, AP reported.

Kentucky is one of a number of states debating "heartbeat" bills. Both Ohio and Iowa have had similar legislation approved by their state senates this month.