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Kentucky governor vetoes ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy

<i>Timothy D. Easley/AP</i><br/>Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a sweeping abortion bill Friday that would have banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a sweeping abortion bill Friday that would have banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

By Amanda Musa, CNN

Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a sweeping abortion bill Friday that would have banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, restricted access to medication abortion and made it more difficult for a minor to obtain an abortion in the state.

House Bill 3 places a number of restrictions on drugs used in a medication abortion, such as mifepristone. Under the bill, the drug can’t be given to a patient without obtaining their “informed consent” at least 24 hours prior, which includes signing a document “created by the cabinet.”

The legislation does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Beshear said in a veto letter signed Friday that the legislation is “likely unconstitutional.”

The bill, he said, “requires physicians performing nonsurgical procedures to maintain hospital admitting privileges in geographical proximity to the location where the procedure is performed. The Supreme Court has ruled such requirements unconstitutional as it makes it impossible for women, including a child who is a victim of rape or incest, to obtain a procedure in certain areas of the state.”

The legislation would also amend the law that deals with minors obtaining abortions so that only an attending physician, and not an agent, can obtain written consent and requires that the consenting parent or legal guardian “has made a reasonable attempt to notify” any other parent with joint or physical custody at least 48 hours before providing consent.

Samuel Crankshaw, communications manager for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said in a statement Friday that the bill “inserts politics into medicine, aggressively sidelines science in healthcare, and threatens the wellbeing of Kentuckians.”

“House Bill 3 has nothing to do with improving patient safety; it’s just another way for extreme Kentucky politicians to push their political agenda at the expense of their constituents’ lives,” Crankshaw added.

Despite Beshear’s action, the state’s General Assembly can override the veto next week with “a constitutional majority of 51 votes in the House of Representatives and 20 votes in the Senate,” Crankshaw said.

Last month, the GOP-led Senate voted 29-0 to pass the legislation and amended the bill to include a 15-week ban. The same day, the state’s Republican-controlled House passed the measure by 74-19.

The governor, who could have chosen to allow the bill to become law without signing it, has vetoed abortion legislation before.

Beshear had previously told reporters he would “review each” bill, and in response to a question about abortion bills that were pending in mid-March, the governor said he believes “health care decisions should be between a patient and their doctor.”

His veto follows a recent flurry of state-level action to restrict access to abortion across the country.

Last month, Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a ban on most abortions in the state after 15 weeks, similar to the Mississippi law currently before the US Supreme Court, and South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill that will further restrict access to medication abortions in the state.

In Idaho, Republican Gov. Brad Little signed legislation modeled after Texas’ law that bans abortions after about six weeks, becoming the first state to follow the controversial Texas statute that allows private citizens to enforce the restrictions with lawsuits.

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CNN’s Rachel Janfaza and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.

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