Kentucky AG will not defend 'clearly unconstitutional' abortion ban

Posted at 5:32 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 01:28:42-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear will refuse to represent the state in lawsuits filed over the "clearly unconstitutional" 20-week ban on abortion signed Monday by Gov. Matt Bevin, according to a news release from Beshear’s office.

"Identical statutes in other jurisdictions are illegal under numerous Supreme Court decisions," Beshear wrote. Federal judges have struck down 20-week bans in Arizona and Idaho, and Roe v. Wade grants pregnant women in the United States the right to an abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Gov. Bevin signed two bills -- both effective immediately -- Monday morning that placed severe restrictions on women seeking abortions in Kentucky. In addition to the 20-week ban signed into law in Senate Bill 5, which does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest, House Bill 2 mandates that any woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound, hear a description of the image and listen to the fetal heartbeat.

The process outlined in House Bill 2 has been decried by reproductive health advocates as state-ordered emotional harassment of women seeking a legal service.

Beshear said he would "advise that this matter has risks and potential costs, which resulted in over $1 million in legal fees to North Carolina, which lost its defense" -- but, because the Sixth Circuit had not made a decision about the constitutionality of such laws, he would defend agencies sued over House Bill 2’s implementation.

"While these decisions may not please advocates on either side, my duty is to the law," Beshear said.