Updated Apr 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kentucky legislature overrides governor’s veto of 15-week abortion ban

 Andy Beshear, Governor of Kentucky, Commonwealth of Kentucky, speaks onstage during the 2022 Concordia Lexington Summit - Day 2 at Lexington Marriott City Center on April 08.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear during an event in Lexington, Kentucky, who last week acted to veto the abortion ban. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images for Concordia

Kentucky's Republican-led legislature voted Wednesday to override Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's veto of a bill that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Why it matters: The sweeping measure, passed in the Senate and House, means that state legislators have temporarily "suspended legal abortion access" across the state — effective immediately, per Reuters, though abortion providers said they would challenge this in the courts.

  • It makes Kentucky the first U.S. state with no legal abortion access since the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion access in the country, the 19th notes.

The big picture: Kentucky currently bans abortions after 20 weeks, and this bill is modeled after Mississippi's abortion law, which is now under review by the Supreme Court, Axios' Shawna Chen writes.

  • House Bill 3 also restricts access to abortion medication. The ACLU has said it would "violate patient privacy, and make it more difficult for young survivors to seek care."
  • The legislation also takes aim at abortion pills, which advocates on both sides of the fight have positioned as the next battle.
  • Kentucky's two abortion providers have ceased to perform the procedure due to the restrictions set out by bill, the 19th reports.

What they're saying: "We're going to court to block Kentucky’s unconstitutional abortion restrictions," tweeted Planned Parenthood after the vote passed.

  • "These unnecessary requirements would force providers to immediately stop offering abortion in KY. Everyone should have the right to control their own lives and bodies — that includes abortion."

Details: The measure requires that the state Board of Pharmacy certifies providers that dispense abortion pills, Planned Parenthood's Kentucky state director Tamarra Wieder told Reuters. Until this happens, abortion providers cannot offer medication abortions.

  • Another requirement that fetal remains must "be cremated or interred ... places logistical and cost burdens on the clinics that they cannot sustain," per Wieder.
  • Telehealth for medication abortions is also banned under the bill, Wieder notes.

For the record: The state Senate and House also overrode Beshear's veto of their move to ban transgender athletes from taking part in sports, following a pattern in Republican-led states, AP notes.

  • Opponents of the bill vowed to challenge the Kentucky measure, along with other anti-trans bills in the courts, per AP.

Go deeper: What abortion access would look like if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout. The headline in has been updated to clarify that the bill concerns after 15 weeks of pregnancy and that the measure is not temporary.

Go deeper