Kentucky suspends abortion access after legislature enactes sweeping law

Kentucky suspends abortion access after legislature enactes sweeping law

Kentucky suspended legal abortion access on Wednesday after the legislature enacted a sweeping anti-abortion law that took effect right away and forced providers to stop offering abortions until they meet certain requirements.

The Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade has made Kentucky the first U.S. state without legal abortion access, as well as the right to end a pregnancy before the fetus is viable, abortion providers say.

Abortion rights advocacy groups have said they will challenge the bill in court.

The state's clinics say it is too logistically difficult and expensive to operate, including a provision requiring fetal remains be cremated or interred.

It calls for a combination birth-death or stillbirth certificate to be issued for each abortion, and it bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Republican-majority House and Senate overrode his veto on Wednesday evening, but Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed the bill on Friday.

In his veto letter, Beshear expressed concern that the bill did not include exceptions for abortions in cases of rape or incest, and said it was likely unconstitutional because of the requirements it imposed on providers.

Rape and incest are crimes of violence. Victims of these crimes should have options, Beshear wrote.

The legislature overroded several other Beshear vetoes on Wednesday, including a bill banning trans girls from playing girls' sports.

The abortion legislation prevents the state's abortion clinics from operating, according to Planned Parenthood's Kentucky state director Tamarra Wieder.

The state Board of Pharmacy requires providers to certify that they are dispensed with abortion pills. Until abortion providers are certified, they are prevented from offering medication abortions.

The second is the requirement that fetal remains be cremated or interred, which places logistical and cost burdens on the clinics that they can't sustain.

The bill also bans telehealth for medication abortions, requiring an in-person doctor visit for patients seeking to end their pregnancy by pill.

The bans could be withstand legal challenges if a U.S. Supreme Court decision is imminent, as Republican-led states have passed ever-stricter abortion bans this year. On Tuesday, Oklahoma's governor signed a near-total abortion ban that will take effect in August.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case involving a Republican-backed Mississippi law that gives its conservative majority a chance to overturn or even repeal the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

During arguments in the case, conservative justices signaled a willingness to curtail abortion rights in the United States.