Bevin’s shrill rhetoric defies rule of law

Gov. Matt Bevin needs to understand he is no longer candidate Matt Bevin. It’s time to leave the overheated rhetoric behind and consider seriously the obligations and limitations of his new job.

While many things change when new governors or presidents take office, our system of law doesn’t change when a new executive is sworn in.

Bevin needs to recall that abortion is legal in the United States. And he should acknowledge that Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, known as PPINK, had received the appropriate permissions from the appropriate authority, the Office of the Inspector General of the Cabinet Health and Human Services, to perform abortions at its facility in Louisville.

Reports of emails provided to both Insider Louisville and the Louisville Courier-Journal by PPINK make that clear and the Bevin administration has not provided any evidence to the contrary.

Final approval for the facility to offer abortion services could only be given after the services had begun so that the OIG’s office could made an unannounced inspection of the facility. An attorney representing PPINK specifically asked in a Dec. 4 email if it could begin offering those services, “without fear of such services being deemed unlicensed.” Replying on Dec. 7, Inspector General Maryellen Mynear wrote “this is a correct statement of longstanding OIG policy.”

Dec. 7 was the last day in office for both Mynear and the governor who appointed her, Steve Beshear. The next day Bevin, who opposes abortion, took office. For whatever reason, the inspection has not been made — although PPINK says it called twice in January to ask about the delay — and so final approval has not been granted.

None of this stopped Bevin from crying that PPINK was providing “illegal abortions” and had “brazenly set out to conduct abortions without a license in clear violation of Kentucky law.”

After Bevin’s rant, the acting inspector general wrote PPINK a letter citing some previously undefined deficiencies in its application and ordered it to stop providing abortion services, which it did.

The issue here isn’t abortion, it’s whether the law applies equally, regardless of who is governor.

If that’s not the case, then every medical-services provider, every business would face uncertainty about its future with each new governor. What if he or she is opposed to liposuction or payday lending or gambling or selling alcohol? Talk about big, and business-unfriendly, government.

PPINK said it will address the deficiencies and reapply.

Like any service provider or business, Planned Parenthood has the right to expect that an application to conduct a legal activity will be addressed professionally and expeditiously by the appropriate state agency.

And Kentuckians, regardless of their personal feelings about abortion, have every right to expect Bevin to respect the rule of law, rather than try to bend it to his will.