Kentucky women just became the latest victims in the GOP’s never-ending fight to deny reproductive rights. On Monday afternoon the state’s Tea Party governor Matt Bevin signed two of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country. And thanks to an “emergency” provision in the bills, they became law immediately on Bevin’s signature.
In yet another attempt to torture and humiliate women, one of the bills requires a doctor or technician to perform an ultrasound. They are required to show the woman the pictures and play sound of the fetal heartbeat. The bill graciously allows the woman to avert her eyes, and/or ask that the sound be turned off.
The second bill prohibits all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The lone exceptions to the law are to save the life of, or serious injury to, the mother. There are no provisions for ending a pregnancy that is the result of rape or incest.
As Planned Parenthood points out, almost all abortions are performed before the 21st week of pregnancy. But when a late-term abortion is needed it is often due to potentially serious health issues for the fetus, the mother, or both. While the Kentucky law does give doctors the ability to save the mother’s life, a woman will now be forced to carry a severely handicapped fetus to term. And of course, after it is born, if it is able to survive, the family would be largely on its own. Because to the GOP, once a child enters the world it is no longer their concern.
Bevin issued a press release that said in part, “This is truly a new day in Kentucky.” Indeed. It’s the day the right-wing legislature and he codified the second-class status of Kentucky women by not only taking away their right to make an important decision about their body, but by also harassing them them over a decision that few if any women take lightly.
The ACLU wasted no time in filing a lawsuit to block the law, which was rushed through the legislature as soon as Republicans took complete control of the state. The suit says the ultrasound law violates privacy and First Amendment rights with the requirements to present the audio and video to the woman. It calls that provision “government-mandated speech.” According to the ACLU the Kentucky law is virtually identical to a North Carolina abortion law that was previously struck down.
Bevin was dismissive of the lawsuit, saying of the ACLU,
They sue often. It’s not just this state, that’s what they do. They are a bunch of liberal lawyers. They try to find resolution for everything they don’t like in the courts.
Yes, which is why the court system exists. It is the lone branch of the government where individuals have a chance of being protected from government overreach. And that explains why Republicans are so desperate to make sure they are the ones who get to appoint the most judges.
The landscape on reproductive rights is only going to get worse over the next few years. We are about to get a president who is on record saying there should be some sort of punishment for women who get abortions. If Trump and Republicans truly understood what a woman goes through before, during and after the procedure, they might realize she has already been punished enough.