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Abortion-related bill becomes law in Kentucky without Gov. Beshear's signature

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 22:00:40-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Earlier this month, state lawmakers passed seven bills. Shortly after, Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed six of them.

The final bill, Senate Bill 9, was the only one to go into law, but it did not receive Gov. Beshear's signature.

The governor's veto period for the bill expired Thursday night, allowing Kentucky's "Born-Alive Infant" bill to take effect immediately.

"I would like for him to have signed it," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Whitney Westerfield. "But I'm happy that he at least allowed it to become law without his signature and without vetoing it."

Kentucky's General Assembly passed a bill with similar content in 2020. However, the governor vetoed it, and lawmakers, who had left Frankfort because of the coronavirus, could not override the veto. So, this year, they say they were ready.

"We were prepared to override the veto, which would have been fine," said Westerfield. "That would have been easily done. A full 78% of the General Assembly supported the bill as it went through a bi-partisan vote through both chambers. [The bill] had bi-partisan co-sponsors in the Senate. So, we were prepared to do that if that's what we needed to."

What does the law do?

According to the text, the purpose of the law is to: "(a) Ensure the protection and promotion of the health and well-being of all infants born-alive in this Commonwealth; and (b) Mandate that healthcare providers give medically appropriate and reasonable life-saving and life-sustaining medical care and treatment to all born-alive infants."

Supporters of the bill say this is a "victory for the unborn." Critics of the bill have said it's unnecessary because doctors are already required to save lives.

Senate Bill 9 is the first abortion-related bill that Beshear has not vetoed since taking office.

His communication director, Crystal Staley, said, "SB 9 involves a situation that, to our knowledge, has never happened in Kentucky and is already illegal under other Kentucky laws."