Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is refusing to defend Kentucky's new law banning late-term abortions if a lawsuit challenges its constitutionality, drawing a sharp rebuke from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
"This law is clearly unconstitutional based on our review of numerous federal appellate rulings," Beshear said in a statement released Jan. 10.
The new law, passed by the General Assembly on Jan. 7, bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point at which babies can survive outside the womb.
Bevin chastised Beshear for "refusing to do his job" to defend a law that had the support of nearly 80 percent of the state's lawmakers, a portion of them Democrats, and that is widely favored by Kentucky voters.
"AG Beshear would rather pander to his liberal, pro-abortion base than defend the law of Kentucky," Bevin said. "I will, therefore, continue doing it for him by defending these pro-life bills. The citizens of Kentucky demand and deserve no less."
Beshear said his office would be willing to represent state agencies in a lawsuit filed Jan. 9 by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the state's new ultrasound law. The law requires women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound first.
"It is also my duty," he said, "to defend laws where the constitutionality is questionable and finality is needed."
The leader of the state's largest religious organization called for Beshear to leave legal representation to the governor's office in abortion-related cases.
"Given the attorney general's lackadaisical attitude, I don't think he would provide the strong, passionate representation Kentucky needs to defend either of these crucial laws," said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Tom Latek writes for Kentucky Today (www.kentuckytoday.com), a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.