Kentuckians Left Without Abortion Access After Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto
April 19, 2022 | Tags: Abortion, ACLU, health care, REASON
Kentucky is currently without abortion access, as the state's only two abortion providers have suspended operations while they challenge a new law that they say makes it impossible for them to provide abortions legally.
The law—House Bill 3, passed in March—made abortion illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It also instituted several new restrictions on abortion provision before this cutoff, including a ban on abortion pills being shipped in the mail or otherwise provided outside a physician's office.
"Instead, the patient must visit a physician in person to receive the first dose and it requires her to be counseled that the procedure may be reversed after the first pill, an assertion which medical organizations say is not based on any evidence," notes the Louisville Courier Journal.
The 15-week ban got the most attention, but it's the other provisions that currently make it impossible for Kentucky's abortion clinics to continue operating at all, say the providers. These provisions include requiring the state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create an elaborate certification process for anyone making, shipping, or dispensing abortion pills.
"We cannot comply with the many, many, many, many burdens within the bill," Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky state director for Planned Parenthood, told the Associated Press.
That's in part because the regulations took effect immediately—before the processes for complying with them were even in place.
"The law requires that providers are, for instance, registered with the state, certified with the state as providers who can dispense medication abortions. That program doesn't exist yet, so there's no way for providers to be certified at the moment," Heather Gatnarek, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Kentucky, told NPR.
Similarly, there are other forms required that would apply to all abortions, including the sort of regular reporting form that gets submitted to the state for each procedure.
The new form doesn't exist yet. The penalties range widely throughout many of these provisions. Again, the bill itself is 72 pages, so we're talking about a number of different requirements here. And the penalties range from criminal liability, you know, Class D felonies, which in Kentucky is punishable by one to five years, financial penalties of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars. And some of the provisions include mandatory loss of licensure.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed the legislation on April 8.
But the state's GOP-controlled General Assembly voted to override the governor's veto.
— KHJN (@KyHealthJustice) April 13, 2022
Now, Kentucky's two abortion providers—Planned Parenthood and EMW Women's Surgical Services, both located in Louisville—are challenging the law in federal court, in two separate lawsuits. EMW Women's Surgical Services is being represented by the ACLU.
"The lawsuits argue that the law would create unnecessary abortion requirements while simultaneously making those requirements impossible to comply with given the immediate effective date of the law, forcing providers in the state to stop offering abortion services," explains the ACLU in a press release. "Because the law is impossible to comply with, it amounts to a de facto abortion ban, thus violating patients' federal right to abortion under Roe v. Wade."
#HB3 also contains an emergency clause that puts it into effect immediately–that's one of the reasons we're asking the court for emergency relief.
Without relief, it would be impossible for healthcare providers to comply because it requires state programs that do not yet exist.
— ACLU of Kentucky (@ACLUofKY) April 13, 2022
"The Kentucky legislature was emboldened by a similar 15-week ban pending before the Supreme Court and other states passing abortion bans, including in Florida and Oklahoma, but this law and others like it remain unconstitutional," said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement. "We urge the court to block this law immediately and ensure that people in Kentucky can continue to access abortion care."
Both Planned Parenthood and EMW Women's Surgical Services have ceased operations for the time being. That means there is currently no access to abortion within Kentucky.
"We will not be providing abortion care until there is relief from the court," said Nicole Erwin, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood. "Any patients seeking abortion care in Kentucky are still advised to reach out to us for their first appointment so that we can coordinate care in Indiana or another state that can provide the care they need."
The travel mask mandate is "unlawful," says a federal judge in Florida. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) rule that people must wear masks on buses, trains, subway systems, and airplanes. "Our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends," wrote Mizelle in her ruling.
"Mizelle's ruling brings an immediate halt to the mandate, though the government could ask the court to stay the judgment while an appeal is made," notes Reason's Robby Soave. "In either case, it's not clear how much longer the CDC planned to keep the mandate. It was initially set to expire today, but the agency extended it for two additional weeks."
Great thread about social media and how the average person uses it compared to how its chattering-class discontents do:
With all due respect to @JonHaidt, I increasingly suspect that pieces like this really aren't about how social media corrupt society, but rather a projection of increasing confusion and frustration within the elite onto society. Short ???? 1/7 https://t.co/cbXSER8PU5
— Christian Hoffmann (@cphoffmann) April 18, 2022
Christian Hoffman, a professor at the University of Leipzig, goes on to note that politics is only a small portion of social media activity and that most social media users say they enjoy using it for things like connecting with friends and family and staying abreast of local community news. "To understand what broke our public discourse, maybe the elite should start looking closer to home instead of projecting their weird use experience onto society?" comments Hoffman. "Analyses jumping from 'people enjoy sharing cat pics on Insta' to 'democracy in peril' leave out a huge party of the story."
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• "U.S. immigration officials detained more than 5,000 migrants from Ukraine at the nation's land, sea and air borders in March," reports The Washington Post. "Many, if not most, Ukrainians have been released into the United States via humanitarian parole, which allows people to stay temporarily, and they continued arriving this month, though updated figures were not available."
• Social media language is adapting to thwart policies that down-rank discussions of certain topics. "For instance, in many online videos, it's common to say 'unalive' rather than 'dead,' 'SA' instead of 'sexual assault,' or 'spicy eggplant' instead of 'vibrator,'" notes Taylor Lorenz.
• Infowars has filed for bankruptcy.
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• New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he's once again considering putting metal detectors in subways.
• Florida's rejected math textbook brouhaha "is perhaps the quintessential deployment of CRT as a right-wing bugaboo," suggests Philip Bump at The Washington Posst. "The state rejected a number of math textbooks and issued a news release citing critical race theory as a rationale for at least some of those rejections—and then didn't bother to demonstrate how those books actually incorporated critical race theory. All of the political benefit; none of the administrative legwork."
• In Kansas, "Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday vetoed conservative Republicans' proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls' and women's sports and a GOP proposal aimed at making it easier for parents to try to remove materials from public school classrooms and libraries," reports the Associated Press.
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