Kentucky governor vetoes bill restricting abortions amid coronavirus pandemic: 'I'm just not doing divisive issues right now'

Kentucky governor vetoes bill restricting abortions amid coronavirus pandemic: 'I'm just not doing divisive issues right now'
© Youtube/ Andy Beshear

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Friday vetoed a bill that would have granted the state’s Republican attorney general the power to restrict access to abortions during the coronavirus pandemic and require doctors to try to preserve the life of any infant born after an attempted abortion.

Beshear wrote in a veto message that existing laws already grant full protections to children from being denied medical care and that similar bills in other states have been struck down as unconstitutional.

“I am vetoing Senate Bill 9 because existing Kentucky law already fully protects children from being denied life-saving medical care and treatment when they are born," he wrote. "In addition, bills similar to Senate Bill 9 have been struck down as unconstitutional in the majority of states in America when challenged."

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Beshear argued that the law would spur a “divisive set of lawsuits that reduce our unity” in the face of the coronavirus.

“I'm just not doing divisive issues right now,” he added during a news conference.

The bill Beshear vetoed was passed earlier this month by Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

The measure says that “a physician performing an abortion shall take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant,” and says that violations could spark civil actions and “the automatic suspension” of the health care provider's license for at least a year.

The measure would have also granted the state attorney general the ability to sue abortion facilities to “prevent, penalize, and remedy violations” of abortion regulations. 

Republicans have clamored for the bill’s passage, with many suggesting that abortions should fall under Beshear’s order instituted last month restricting elective surgeries.

The bill’s opponents claim that such measures would curtail access to abortion by imposing unnecessary penalties on doctors and note that intentionally killing an infant that is born alive is already a felony. 

State legislatures across the country have sought to impose restrictions on abortion since the coronavirus outbreak started, with many claiming it should be counted as an elective procedure.