Kentucky Committee Approves Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 6, 2011   |   4:38PM   |   Frankfort, KY

Women considering an abortion should be given full information, including a chance to see an ultrasound of their baby beforehand, says Kentucky legislators.

The Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee approved a bill Thursday morning allowing women a chance to see the ultrasound of their unborn child, which they are frequently not shown by an abortion center even though pre-abortion ultrasounds are routine.

The panel approved Senate Bill 9 9-3 and the full state Senate could vote on the bill as early as Friday, according to an AP report.

Abortion practitioners who violate the law and fail to show women the ultrasound would be fined up to $100,000 the first time and up to $250,000 the second time they broke the law.

The measure, which is similar to laws in other states, would expand the current informed consent statute on the books in Kentucky that has helped reduce the number of abortions in the state by providing women information on abortion risks and alternatives. Approved in 1998, the law requires abortion facilities to provide the information to women 24 hours in advance of the abortion.

Sen. Jack Westwood, the Erlanger Republican who chairs the committee, said the bill allows women the opportunity to decline to see the ultrasound if they choose not to view it. But abortion advocates opposed the bill citing interference in the doctor patient relationship, even though women who get abortions have almost assuredly never met the abortion practitioner beforehand and frequently will not see him after the abortion is complete.

Last year, the Kentucky Senate approved the same ultrasound bill, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Tori, a Republican, but it died in the state House.

Teresa Watson, executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Center, applauded the vote.

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, this is something that will give her more information than she had before. She can see the reality of the child very simply on the screen and I believe she deserves to be able to see that,” she said according to WLKY.

“The most common remark we hear is, ‘I did not know.’ They did not know how far along, what their baby looked like at the gestation they were when they had the abortion,” Watson said of women who come to her center.

Shirley Jones of Planned Parenthood of Kentucky indicated the abortion business opposes the bill to help women get more information, but admitted that, “Offering that information is certainly something the physician and the patient will want to discuss.”

Also last year, the director of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which does abortions in Louisville, admitted to WLKY that they do ultrasound scans before all abortions.

Robert Castagna, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, supported the bill last year. [related]

“Abortion is a life-changing and life-ending procedure,” he said. “Good public policy demands that before a woman gives truly informed consent and allows an irreversible procedure to be performed on herself and her unborn child, she should be fully informed by the most complete and current information.”

The 2009 version of the measure received Senate approval before dying in a House committee. The state Senate signed off on that bill on a 33-4 vote but, for the second year in a row in 2010, the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee shot down the measure.

When used in pregnancy centers ultrasounds help more than 80 percent of women decide against an abortion and to keep their baby.