FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s anti-abortion attorney general would be given new power to regulate abortion clinics under a bill that won final passage Saturday from the Republican-dominated legislature.
The Senate voted 30-5 to send the measure to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who vetoed similar legislation in 2020. Last year’s bill passed in the final hours of the legislative session, preventing lawmakers from overriding the veto. They’ll have ample time to take up an override of this year’s bill.
The abortion-related proposal became the first bill to clear the legislature during this year’s pandemic-dominated session. In the opening week of the session, GOP lawmakers expedited work on bills dealing with abortion and limiting the governor’s emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The abortion proposal that passed Saturday would give Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron the power to seek civil and criminal penalties for any violation of Kentucky’s abortion laws.
In recent years, Kentucky lawmakers have moved aggressively to put restrictions and conditions on abortion since Republicans assumed total control of the General Assembly.
Democratic Sen. Karen Berg criticized lawmakers for making the abortion measure a priority at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is raging.
“This is what we are spending our time, our energy and our taxpayers’ money on,” she said. “I think it is a great disservice to the people of this commonwealth.”
While giving the attorney general new powers, the bill retains the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ authority to enforce abortion laws and seek penalties for violations, said Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield.
The legislation is House Bill 2.