Kentucky Senate OKs Ultrasound Before Abortion Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 7, 2011   |   5:11PM   |   Frankfort, KY

Just hours after a Kentucky state Senate committee approved a bill that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their baby before an abortion, the full state Senate has approved it.

“It’s our first victory,” Mary Spaulding Balch, the attorney who oversees state legislation for National Right to Life, told NRL News.

“What can be more informative than an ultrasound image of the mother’s own unborn child?, “Balch said. “It offers her a window to her womb and allows her the opportunity to see her child in real-time ultrasound. It offers her an opportunity to understand the consequences of her decision so that she might be spared regret. And it offers her the opportunity to choose life for her child.”

Balch told the newspaper the bill is key in further reducing the number of abortions in Kentucky “because it goes far in protecting the mother from making an uninformed decision–one that has life and death consequences.”

“Kentucky Right to Life did a superb job in the Senate,” Balch said, “and will continue to work for passage in the House.”

The House is the key concern for pro-life advocates because the Senate has twice before approved the legislation only to see the pro-life bill go down in the state House as a committee refused to hold a hearing or vote on the bill.

The Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee approved the 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.

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, applaud that 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.

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.