FRANKFURT, Ky. (Christian Examiner) – Gov. Matt Bevin was elected on a promise that he would dismantle Planned Parenthood's operations in Kentucky and curtail the abortion industry as much as possible in the state. On Feb. 2, he showed he was willing to keep his promise – and in an unusual way.
On Tuesday, legislators delivered to Bevin's office Senate Bill 4, an "informed consent" law which requires women seeking an abortion to have a consultation with a doctor, either face-to-face or with a video conference, and no less than 24 hours before having an abortion. The video conference option was reportedly added to remove objections to women having to travel to a doctor and to smooth the path to the bill's passage.
According to one Republican lawmaker, SB 4 – which passed by a 33-5 vote in the Senate – clarifies that women may not simply call a doctor and inform them of an intended abortion. Now, the woman must be told about the procedure, its risks, the probable age of the child, child support laws and agencies that can assist with care or adoption services should the women carry the child to term, Sen. Julie Raque Adams [R-Louisville] said.
Adams said she was grateful lawmakers were "steadfast in their determination to care, not only for the wellbeing and health of women, but for the unborn."
When the bill was brought to the governor's office, Bevin offered the legislators instrumental in its passage a choice. They could wait and arrange a ceremonial signing around the time pro-abortion activists were scheduled to protest at the Capitol, or they could sign it immediately.
"We could do this ceremonially at that time or we could do it for real at that time," Bevin told the crowd of legislators pressing into his office. "You all tell me. Can it wait nine days?" He asked.
Adams, however, deferred to Bevin and he decided to sign the bill immediately.
"I'm grateful for the chance to be able to sign meaningful legislation, and today was a day when a meaningful piece of legislation was put in front of me," Bevin said later.
Bevin's signing of SB 4 comes on the heels of his controversial closure of one of the state's Planned Parenthood clinics. He ordered the clinic shut down because it was performing abortions without a license.
Planned Parenthood contends it believed it was acceptable to perform abortions while it waited for its license, which it only applied for on Nov. 19 – nearly two weeks after Bevin took office Nov. 8. According to the abortion provider, the administration of Gov. Steve Beshear had blessed the clinic's operation – even without having the license in hand.
Bevin, however, told his staff to see to the clinic shutdown until all of its legal paperwork was in order.
SB 4 was not without opposition. Sen. Reginald Thomas [D-Lexington] said he was one of five senators who voted "no" on the legislation because the bill was unnecessary.
"It's obvious these women understand, given their age and education, what it means to be pregnant," Thomas said. "To require these women to have a conference ... to explain the obvious is just ridiculous. I see no reason, no purpose for this legislation," Thomas said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky also vehemently opposed SB 4 because, the liberal group claimed, it created an "unnecessary barrier to safe and legal abortions."
"This afternoon the Kentucky General Assembly – a body which increasingly decries 'big government' – placed itself firmly in between Kentucky women and their medical care providers. Instead of respecting and protecting the rights of women in the Commonwealth to consult with a medical professional privately and on their own terms, lawmakers are now dictating care and medical advice from Frankfort," Derek Selznick, director of the ACLU of Kentucky's "Reproduction Freedom Project," said in a statement.
"Some have said the addition of a telehealth (video conference) option in the bill makes this legislation neutral and non-burdensome; that is incorrect. We know through the work on KentuckyWired that thousands of Kentucky families don't have ready access to high-speed internet necessary to use live, real-time communication services like Skype."
Selznick concluded that the bill opens the door to "unprecedented government meddling" in women's health care.
The ACLU of Kentucky plans a protest Feb. 23 to protest the "attacks on women's reproductive health" by the state.
During Bevin's campaign for governor, he said during a debate that Planned Parenthood's Indiana and Kentucky branch received public funding for its abortion services and profited from its fetal organ tissue harvesting.
"I find it problematic that Planned Parenthood receives public funding and then turns around and makes political donations to its political supporters. For example, my opponent Jack Conway, who is pro-abortion, has received $5,000 in political contributions from Planned Parenthood. Why should an entity have the ability to receive hundreds of millions in public funding and then turn around and give money to politicians who continue to fund them?" Bevin asked.
"I have pledged to defund Planned Parenthood. Federal taxpayer dollars appropriated to Planned Parenthood flow through the governor's administration. As governor, I will direct my Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services not to distribute federal taxpayer dollars from that department to Planned Parenthood clinics. Instead, I will redirect these funds to other health clinics who do not provide abortion services or return them to the federal government," Bevin added.
The provisions of SB 4 go into effect in July.