FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 20, 2017) – After it sailed through the legislature in just four days, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill into law banning most abortions after 20 weeks, defying a Supreme Court opinion prohibiting states from regulating abortions before 24 weeks.
Sen. Brandon Smith (R-Hazard) sponsored Senate Bill 5 (SB5) along with 14 cosponsors. The legislation bans abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions for saving the life of the mother or to prevent serious risk of bodily harm to the mother. Current precedent generally allows states to bar abortions after 24 weeks.
The Senate approved SB5 30-6. The House passed the measure 79-15. Gov. Bevin signed the bill into law on Jan. 9 and it went into immediate effect.
Kentucky is the 19th state to ban abortions at 20 weeks or later. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a similar bill last month. Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis supported that measure.
“The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America. It challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain,” he told the Columbus Dispatch.
in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Supreme reaffirmed the opinion in Roe v. Wade that a woman has an absolute right to an abortion until fetal viability, while rejecting a trimester structure the court initially used to determine when states could regulate abortion. Current Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from regulating abortion before 24 weeks. The new Kentucky law effectively nullifies the SCOTUS criteria.
The opinion of Supreme Court judges notwithstanding, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to regulate abortions. This clearly falls within the objects James Madison said would remain with the state governments – “objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people.”
But in Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS created a constitutional “right to privacy” out of thin air and enforced it on state governments through the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment. Justice Byron White captured the absurdity of the ruling in a blistering dissent.
“I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.”
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