Republican lawmakers in Kentucky moved on Wednesday to pass House Bill 451, which would expand the power of Kentucky’s attorney general to seek civil and criminal penalties for violations relating to abortions and abortion facilities. The move places the bill in the hands of Governor Andy Beshear, the state’s new Democratic governor.
Under current Kentucky law, the attorney general needs authorization from the state Cabinet for Health and Family services before taking civil or criminal action against abortion facilities. If passed, the proposed measure would give the attorney general independent authority on those matters. Kentucky’s governor now has to decide if he will veto the bill, keeping the regulatory authority of abortion facilities in his own administration’s hands.
The bill joins another anti-abortion measure that has been passed by the Kentucky House recently. In late March, abortion opponents in the Kentucky House passed House Bill 67. If approved, the law would amend the state’s constitution to read, “to protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or to require the funding of abortion.”
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky condemned the anti-abortion actions of the Kentucky legislators, expressing that the bills passed by the House “have one goal in mind: to bring a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court, and make abortion inaccessible in Kentucky.” The statement pointed out that the legislation will affect more than half of Kentucky’s population and could restrict access to abortion care even in case of rape or incest.