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Kentucky senator speaks on her viral speech against state’s abortion ban

(NEW YORK) — Kentucky state Sen. Karen Berg went viral last month for an impassioned speech in the Senate chambers against the state’s new law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, calling the legislation a “medical sham.”

Now that the bill is the law of the land, the Democratic senator told ABC News Live on April 15 that she will continue to raise her voice as the controversial legislation faces lawsuits.

“I don’t really understand how your morals could possibly think that is the appropriate thing to do,” she told ABC News, regarding the new abortion law.

The state bill went into effect on April 13 after the GOP-led legislature overturned Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto. Under the new rules, any physician who performs an abortion after 15 weeks would lose their license for at least six months.

The bill allows for exceptions if there is a medical emergency in which continuing the pregnancy would result in “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” or “death of the pregnant woman.” There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

The bill’s proponents have argued that abortion is morally wrong, including Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who said the bill was meant “to protect life and promote the health and safety of women.”

During the March 10 vote, Berg scolded the legislators who signed onto the bill for ignoring the personal choices of a pregnant woman.

“What you are doing is…putting your knee, putting a gun to women’s heads. You’re killing them,” she said.

Berg told ABC News that the speech wasn’t prepared and came about from her frustrations on the number of state legislatures in the country that choose “to ignore what is safe for women, to ignore what women want, and sometimes need for their own safety, and instead insert their own moral values that have nothing to do with health care.”

“That, honestly, is such an overreach of what government is supposed to be doing,” Berg said.

She recalled that her father, a surgeon, taught her how dangerous backstreet abortions can be, and was baffled as to why lawmakers would reduce access to safe options.

“I have actually seen what it looks like inside of a woman who is dying from sepsis, from a botched illegal abortion,” Berg said.

The bill also changed the regulations for prescription drugs used for medication abortions, which is a nonsurgical procedure typically used up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.

In order for a physician to provide the medication, they must have hospital admitting privileges in “geographical proximity” to where the abortions are being performed, give the patient an in-person examination 24 hours before the medication abortion and cannot mail the drugs.
MORE: Oklahoma passes bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions

Berg said all of the clinics that provide medication abortion have had to shut down because they cannot comply with the new regulations.

“We do not have the system,” she said.

Two federal lawsuits were filed April 14 by abortion advocates, including Planned Parenthood, arguing that it is “impossible to comply” with the new regulations and the new law resulted in “unconstitutional ban on abortion in Kentucky.” Cameron said in a statement he would defend the law, reiterating that the “General Assembly passed HB 3 to protect life and promote the health and safety of women.”

Berg said she is unsure how the lawsuit will play out, especially since the Supreme Court is slated to make a decision on a case that challenges a similar 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi.

“How is this going to play out? Well, a lot of it’s going to depend on the Supreme Court decision. There is a lot, a lot riding on that decision,” she said.

ABC News’ Mary Kekatos contributed to this report.

 

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