ACLU-KY Policy Strategist Jackie McGranahan wrote the letter below to Governor Beshear urging him to protect reproductive freedom by vetoing House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 9.
Dear Governor Beshear,
We write to call for a veto to House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 9. We fought this anti-abortion legislation during the 2020 legislative session and continue our effort this year. We appreciate you standing up for reproductive freedom and vetoing this legislation in 2020. Despite the many significant issues facing the commonwealth this year, lawmakers reintroduced and quickly passed this legislation with limited public access to the legislative process due to the ongoing pandemic. We urge you to veto both of these measures again.
House Bill 2 is yet another attempt to undermine science-based healthcare regulations, executive branch authority, and the will of the voters. House Bill 2 is clearly not about improving health outcomes, but is instead another piece of the General Assembly’s years-long effort to block all access to abortion care in Kentucky.
First, House Bill 2 clearly targets abortion care providers; it does not expand the attorney general’s oversight role to any other healthcare providers. It would allow the attorney general to interfere with and undermine career health experts so he can carry out his own anti-abortion political agenda. The attorney general has publicly stated he would use these powers to target – and even punish – abortion care providers.
Second, House Bill 2 is a blatant power grab and is just the latest attempt by the General Assembly and Attorney General to enact their anti-abortion agenda and score cheap political points. Abortion care providers are already tightly regulated and under the supervision of career health experts at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. These employees have the expertise to oversee healthcare providers, conduct comprehensive investigations, and grant or revoke licenses. Lawmakers claim House Bill 2 would not limit or preclude the Cabinet’s authority over abortion care providers. However, it is clear our anti-abortion attorney general would weaponize these new authorities to enact his personal political agenda and potentially undermine the science-based decisions of Cabinet officials.
In addition to House Bill 2, the General Assembly also passed Senate Bill 9 in their first week of the legislative session. This bill is a solution in search of a non-existent problem. Even worse, it is not based in the real-life practice of medicine and serves only to shame and ostracize patients and healthcare providers. Senator Westerfield, the bill’s sponsor, admitted he knows of no instance of the situation described in the bill happening in Kentucky. Senate Bill 9 uses inflammatory rhetoric to make physicians who provide abortion care appear criminal. Moreover, this bill could violate patient privacy by violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If a scenario like that mentioned in the bill were to occur – though none has – a birth and death certificate would be filed with the state’s Office of Vital Statistics. There is no way to file these records without including the patient’s name.
Every pregnancy is different and every pregnant person’s situation is different. While many of us may hold different views on abortion, I think we can all agree that decisions about pregnancy are deeply personal and best made by the pregnant person themselves. The government should never have the right to force a person to remain pregnant against their will. House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 9 are not about improving healthcare, but seek to push this constitutionally-protected care out of reach, bit by bit.
We deeply appreciate your commitment to protecting reproductive freedom in 2020, and respectfully urge you to veto House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 9.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Policy Strategist, Reproductive Freedom Project
ACLU of Kentucky