With new super majorities in the Kentucky House and Senate, Republican lawmakers are moving quickly to do what they could not in the past: enact new protections for unborn babies against abortion.
On Thursday, the Kentucky Senate passed a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection bill, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain.
Kentucky Public Radio reports the bill passed in a 30-6 vote just three days into the 2017 legislative session. It moves to the House, where it is generally predicted to pass. Gov. Matt Bevin also is pro-life and is likely to sign the bill.
If passed, the bill would make Kentucky the 16th state to enact a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, following Ohio last month. Together, these laws potentially are saving thousands of babies’ lives. There were at least 5,770 late-term abortions at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy in 2013 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another approximate 8,150 abortions took place between 18 weeks and 20 weeks, the CDC reports.
Abortion activists held a rally in the Kentucky Capitol on Thursday to protest the Senate bill, as well as a House bill to require that an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion.
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They claimed the bills were unconstitutional, a “political ploy against Democrats,” and an attempt to shame women, according to WLKY News. Their rally did not phase pro-life politicians, who passed both bills with strong majorities.
The ultrasound bill requires abortion facilities to perform an ultrasound prior to the abortion and allow the woman to see it if she chooses. It also requires the medical staff to describe the image of the unborn child, its size, organs and other features, Reuters reports.
The bill passed the House on Thursday in an 83-12 vote, according to the report. It moves to the state Senate for consideration.
State Rep. Kimberly Moser, R-Taylor Mill, explained the bill will help to ensure that women are fully informed before making a final decision about an abortion.
”It is with accurate information that a patient can make an informed decision regarding their treatment, whether it is treatment for a brain tumor requiring an MRI or CAT scan, or if it is to determine the health and the progress of a pregnancy through an ultrasound,” Moser said.
State Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, added: “This bill seeks to inform the patient of what else is growing in her body and how large it is and how old it is and if there’s more than one. Maybe even if the baby has passed. This is an informational bill that will help women make informed decisions.”
WLKY reports the ultrasound bill could pass the Senate as soon as Saturday.
Reuters reports 2017 is the first year that Republicans have had a majority in the Kentucky House of Representatives since 1921.