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Over the course of the historic first week of the 2017 Regular Session two bills were passed that aimed to give greater information to women seeking an abortion and to restrict when abortion should be available because the unborn child can feel pain from the procedure.

House Bill 2 – The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act

HB2 require an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion so that the mother can be fully informed about the procedure and the life she carries before making the decision to choose abortion.

Senate Bill 5 – Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

SB5 prohibits abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergencies, because the babies can feel pain.

Both bills contained emergency clauses, making them take legal effect immediately upon the Governor's signature.  The ACLU promptly sued the Commonwealth over HB2 (ultrasound) on the grounds the bill is unconstitutional.  I disagree.

Unfortunately, the duty of defending the law falls on the shoulders of an attorney general I have little faith will actually work hard to defend the law's constitutionality.  And General Beshear removed all doubt with the following press statement on the matter:

As attorney general, it is my duty to enforce the Constitution. It is also my duty to defend laws where the constitutionality is questionable and finality is needed. Adhering to these duties is why, after close review, my office will defend the agencies sued over House Bill 2 that seek our representation. Whether a mandatory ultrasound and explanation is constitutional has split the two federal appellate circuits that have directly addressed it. The Sixth Circuit that includes Kentucky, has not rendered a decision. I will 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. Conversely, my office will not represent the state on any challenge to Senate Bill 5, the 20-week ban. This law is clearly unconstitutional based on our review of numerous federal appellate rulings, which state that identical statutes in other jurisdictions are illegal under numerous Supreme Court decisions. While these decisions may not please advocates on either side, my duty is to the law.

Given the AG's lukewarm support for legislation protecting human life, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan number of legislators representing the vast majority of the people of the Commonwealth, I joined with the House Judiciary Chair, Hon. Joseph Fischer; the Speaker of the House, Hon. Jeff Hoover; and the President of the Senate, Hon. Robert Stivers, in filing an amicus brief in support of HB2.

You can view the brief and other court filings right here:

Note the detail and passion of the General's response to the ACLU's motion for the temporary restraining order to temporarily stop the ultrasound requirement.  Spoiler Alert: "...the Attorney General does not take a position on the Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order." 

Here's the ACLU lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HB2 if you care to read it:

Until the War is Over

Back in May (2014), I made a trip to Frankfort to catch up with a school group that was taking a daylong field trip around the historic sites of the Capitol City.  The Heritage Christian Academy Warriors (4th graders) have made a trip up to the Capitol both years I've been in office, and like any other school group visiting during the interim (when I'm not already up there for session) if I can I make the trek to Frankfort too meet them.  I hate missing a chance to visit with school kids about the job I'm blessed to have — one of these kids from the district is going to have this job one day in the future!

I caught up with the group and took them to the Senate chamber and had a chance to talk to them for nearly 45 minutes.  They asked all kinds of questions and I gave all kinds of answers!  Since we had the room to ourselves and plenty of time, I explained a lot about the kind of things we do, good and bad.  One of the students asked if I had ever been scared doing my job.  Interesting question.  Easy answer.  Yes.

I've been nervous before, about speaking or carrying a bill on the floor, but those are just nerves about sounding stupid or saying something inaccurate or embarrassing.  Fear, on the hand, hasn't been felt nearly as often.  In fact, I can only think of one occasion.  Carrying Senate Bill 8, the "ultrasound bill," in the House Health & Welfare Committee.  The bill, just like others over the years before now, had come out of the Senate and died at the hands of a pro-choice Committee Chairman and pro-choice House leaders — some publicly and unabashedly, and others under cover of anonymity and secret, if not outright deceit.  This year, the bill had sat without a hearing in the House Health & Welfare Committee for over two months when a discharge petition was filed in the house.  A discharge petition, if passed by a simple majority (51 of 100), would remove the unheard bill from the Committee and bring it before the full House for a vote on the floor.  This year, despite 61 co-sponsors of a house bill that contained SB8 language, 49 democrats and a couple of republicans (many of whom brag on themselves for co-sponsoring the same kind of bill) either walked out on the discharge petition vote or simply failed to show up for it at all.  The petition failed to pass.  Naturally, the next move of House leadership was to hear the bill in Committee - it's an election year so they can't ignore the bill altogether.  That's where I come in.

The House Health & Welfare Committee is perceived, fairly or unfairly, as unfriendly territory for conservatives.  Liberals control the membership head count, and the tension between committee members of opposite ideologies is palpable and sometimes expressly shown.  Even the committee members themselves refer to the committee by its common nickname "Hell & Warfare."  This was the lions' den, and I was ordered to march in knowing legislative defeat was certain.

I approached my testimony with great fright, believing I would be attacked or my words twisted by the committee members or the media or both.  But I carried on. I presented the bill calmly and directly, explaining the bill didn't actually do anything to expressly restrict abortion at all (no matter how much I wish would).

My testimony fell on more deaf ears than not. Those who wish to protect abortion rights made half-true claims about the bill, and particularly galling was the act by two of the most fiercely prochoice members of the committee to make the initial motion and second for the bill to be voted on — they knew they had numbers.

I explained the situation as it unfolded (edited for time and content, of course)  to these school kids. I told them how scared I was of that meeting and the battle that would come my way.  It was at that moment when a young man raised his hand to ask this profound question:

So you fight until the war is over?


A reporter politely asked me once why we (conservatives) keep fighting for prolife legislation when we know it will continue to be defeated.  We keep fighting because those lives should be protected, and we can't give up until they are.  I trust God's plan, regardless of the outcome.  He can *seal* the mouths of the lions!


Whitney's Week 5 Wrap-Up

Will we ever get a break from this winter weather? February opened with snow and ice across most of Kentucky. I hope you and yours are safe. As highway crews are out working all hours of the night, and utility workers are restoring power to the many areas that lost it, I am reminded of and appreciate the people that are out working in these tough and hazardous conditions to keep us safe and warm. I encourage you to remember them in your prayers.

2014 Day 1

The 2014 Regular Session has begun, and I have filed a couple of the more important pieces of legislation I'm focused on. As I've been writing and talking about for several months, juvenile code reform is at/near the top of the list but that bill is rather large and is still undergoing edits with stakeholder input.