Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin loves the fetus but not the child, especially if the child is poor. As is typical of teabagger Republican governors, he trumpets his “pro-life” credentials, but stands at the ready to deny services and education to the children of his state. Defeated in his attempt to oust Senator Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary in Kentucky, Bevin turned his eyes to the Governor’s Mansion and won his place there last November.
February has been a busy month for the new governor. On February 2, he signed into law a so-called “informed consent” law requiring that a woman seeking an abortion have a face-to-face medical consultation 24 hours beforehand. The consultation can be in person or via video-conferencing.
Interestingly, Rutgers University researchers studied the information that such “consultations” provide and have found that a third of the time the information is inaccurate.
“The study, which appears in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, analyzed text from government-produced booklets from 23 states that require informed consent. The booklets are intended to provide information on embryological and fetal development. The study found 31% of the information was medically inaccurate, and the most inaccuracies were found in the first trimester of pregnancy. Among women who have abortions, 90% do so in the first trimester.”
So much for being “informed.”
Bevin then went on mid-month to sue Planned Parenthood, falsely claiming that they were “brazenly” conducting illegal abortions at their new Louisville center without a license. Planned Parenthood had been working with the previous administration who had told them the clinic had to open and begin providing all services, which include abortions, before it could be inspected. Officials with the Bevin administration have said that advice was wrong and the clinic should not have begun providing abortions without a license. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is apparently the way it’s done in Kentucky nowadays, even when you follow the rules to the letter of the law.
Planned Parenthood has sued.
On Tuesday KentuckyOne Health cancelled a contract to provide care at University of Louisville Hospital for any Planned Parenthood patient who might have unexpected complications resulting from an abortion. The company, which manages the UL Hospital, cited “incredible” outside pressure from unnamed sources as the reason. The state requires that a “transfer agreement” naming a specific hospital be in place in order to obtain a license to provide abortions at its new clinic in downtown Louisville.
The majority owner of KentuckyOne Health is Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives. When the UL Hospital partnered with the group in 2012, there were immediate concerns that Catholic doctrine would affect women’s reproductive health services at the facility. The CHI website proudly states, “The Mission of Catholic Health Initiatives is to nurture the healing ministry of the Church, supported by education and research. Fidelity to the Gospel urges us to emphasize human dignity and social justice as we create healthier communities.”
Planned Parenthood attorney Thomas Clay says, “It appears the governor has a personal agenda to thwart the operation of this clinic. It is a personal vendetta the governor has against a lawful operation.”
Today, Bevin upped the anti-choice ante and has demanded the closure of EMW women’s clinic in Lexington, again pulling the “unlicensed” and “illegal” cards out onto the table. This time he went so far as to call the facility “filthy” and “unsanitary.”
With even more anti-choice legislation in the works, no wonder one anti-choice group gushes that “New Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin Takes on Abortion Industry.”
He is certainly pro-fetus and pro-birth, but he maintains the currently fashionable right-wing stance of denying respect and services to those already born. He has slammed early childhood education programs like Head Start, saying they “serve no purpose.” He tweeted “Current approach to HeadStart, beyond third grade there is no academic (benefit). We out $170B into that program…”
Bevin is also proposing massive cuts to higher education in Kentucky. Like Donald Trump, he, too, loves the poorly educated, or so it seems.
The governor wants to order random drug tests for those on Medicaid and Medicare. Yes, you read that correctly. He wants to drug test your grandparents to be sure they’re not smoking weed or meth or crack.
Michael Aldridge, executive director of ACLU Kentucky, says that drug testing targets the poor.“Why would we scapegoat poor people? Others who receive government assistance are not subjected to these kinds of tests.”
Aldridge points out that many bank executives who received federal bailout money did not have to be drug tested in order to receive the funds. States by federal law cannot make drug testing a condition of receiving unemployment insurance or food stamps. They can, however, still demand the testing for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
When he was running in the 2014 Kentucky Senate Republican primary, he vowed that he would vote to block any funds under Medicaid for birth control. Apparently, the need to prevent abortion in the first place is a grievous sin, as well. When called out on this, his campaign issued a statement saying, “”Matt stands in lock step with conservatives who oppose all use of taxpayer money for abortion.”
“In goose-step” seems to be a more appropriate term to use.
Many of the people of Kentucky are not anxious to go back to the Dark Ages. A rally last week in Frankfort, the state capitol, supported Planned Parenthood and the need to maintain accuracy and availability for women’s reproductive health. Kim Greene, chair-elect of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, brought the crowd to its feet when she said, “To the governor’s heartless attempt to penalize Kentucky women by suing Planned Parenthood, we say no – we will not go back.”
Indeed they will not. Indeed WE will not. Access to safe and legal abortion and contraceptives and women’s health services is not negotiable, despite the right wing’s war on women.