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Kentucky GOP legislators try to block abortion clinics from operating amid coronavirus pandemic

Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron is asking that abortions be considered elective procedures, which the governor called to stop during this state of emergency.

KENTUCKY, USA — Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is trying to block abortions in the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning nonessential procedures, including abortions, during the pandemic. A federal appeals court in Texas confirmed the order on Tuesday, ruling that the state can enforce a ban on abortions. AG Cameron is working to do the same.

Right now, EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville is still open to performing abortions. It’s the only abortion provider in the state.

In a press conference, Governor Andy Beshear called on medical professionals to stop any elective medical procedures. He left the decision up to medical providers to determine what counts as elective.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron considers abortions elective.

“Abortion providers should join the thousands of other medical professionals across the state in ceasing elective procedures, unless the life of the mother is at risk, to protect the health of their patients and slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Cameron said in a statement.  

He says the reason is to follow social distancing protocols and conserve medical supplies.

“We’re proud of our GOP legislators continuing to work to address the critical issues facing our state during this crisis – like passing much-needed coronavirus relief, working on a fiscally responsible budget and more,” Republican Party of Kentucky spokesperson Mike Lonergan said.

RELATED: Gov. Holcomb's order stops abortions in Indiana during COVID-19 outbreak to conserve medical equipment

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued an executive order that, among other things, moved to block abortions for the same reason. However, Kentucky ACLU Staff Attorney Heather Gatnarek says supplies aren’t a concern when it comes to abortions.

“Those procedures don’t require hardly any PPE. A medication abortion is strictly a physician handing out a pill to a patient,” Gatnarek said. 

Cameron called on the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Acting Secretary Eric Friedlander to confirm that abortion providers are violating the governor’s executive order.

That would then give Cameron the ability to take action against abortion providers. 

We reached out to Friedlander’s office with no response. 

However, a bill currently moving through the Senate would allow Cameron to sidestep the CHFS.

House Bill 451 would let Cameron act as a special prosecutor of abortion laws. An amendment added last week would also prohibit abortion facilities from calling abortions urgent procedures during this state of emergency.  

“I mean…it is pretty obvious to me is what the general assembly is doing here is using this pandemic as a way to get what they’ve wanted for the past few years, which is a ban on abortion,” Gatnarek said.

The bill passed through a senate committee last week.

We reached out to House Bill 451’s primary sponsors and did not get a response from either.

RELATED: Kentucky AG: Abortions should cease during coronavirus pandemic

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