Gov. Andy Beshear let a bill requiring medical providers to do all that they can to preserve the life of a “born alive infant” become law without his signature Thursday, marking the first abortion-related bill the governor hasn’t vetoed.
“I’m disappointed he didn’t sign it, but I’m grateful he didn’t veto it,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton. “I’ll take what I can get.”
Beshear’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Beshear was endorsed by NARAL, an abortion-rights group, in the 2019 gubernatorial race.
Westerfield has attempted to pass the bill since Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made comments in 2019 on a podcast that conservative commenters claimed was an endorsement of “late-term abortions.” Northam has said he was referring to abortions where there “may be severe deformities” or a fetus that is non-viable.
The bill requires that a physician performing an abortion “take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant.” It also requires that medical providers give a “born-alive infant” any nourishment, medical care, medical treatment and surgical care that is medically appropriate.
Critics of the bill have said it is unnecessary, since medical providers already have an obligation to preserve life and warned that the bill could have unintended consequences if it were to become law.
Beshear vetoed similar legislation last year, when the bill was combined with another anti-abortion rights bill that transferred the power of enforcing abortion laws from the governor to the attorney general and defined abortions as “elective” procedures, which would have shut down abortion clinics during the initial lock-down of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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SOURCE: Lexington Herald-Leader, Daniel Desrochers