By TOM LATEK, Kentucky Today
FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A pro-life measure was the first to win committee approval during the 2021 General Assembly during its opening day on Tuesday.
The measure, known as House Bill 2, would allow the state attorney general to seek injunctive relief and civil or criminal penalties in courts of proper jurisdiction, to prevent violations regarding abortions or administrative regulations, in cases where administrative penalties and legal sanctions are imposed.
“The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer over the Commonwealth”, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joseph Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. “It only makes sense that he or she be charged with such responsibility. As an elected official, I must create and update statutes that protect our most vulnerable and voiceless citizens.”
Current state law permits the attorney general only to take action if the Cabinet for Health and Family Services secretary requests it.
“The governor’s executive orders have shut down businesses, schools, and medical offices. However, abortion clinics have been able to stay open, deeming abortion an essential and urgent procedure,” Fischer said. “This measure expands the purpose of the Attorney General’s actions beyond the need to prevent violations concerning abortion facilities, but also to penalize and remedy those violations if needed.”
“I am grateful to Representative Joe Fischer and House Leadership for, on day one of the 2021 session, passing a bill out of committee that will allow our office to act unencumbered and with clear legal authority when an abortion provider breaks the law,” said Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
“It is my job as the Chief Law Officer for the Commonwealth to ensure that abortion providers follow the law and are not given special treatment or blanket exemptions, as they were during the start of this pandemic. I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly on this important measure.”
The bill cleared the committee on a 14-4 vote and now heads to the House floor.
A similar measure cleared both the House and Senate in the waning days of the 2020 session. Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed it and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers did not have the opportunity to take an override vote on the veto.
Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, introduced SB 9 that would require doctors to provide life-saving care to infants who have survived abortions. Beshear vetoed the bill last year and the legislature did not have time to consider his veto.