Kentucky Panel Passes Pro-Life Bills on Abortion, Ultrasound

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 26, 2012   |   7:27PM   |   Frankfort, KY

A state Senate committee has approved pro-life bills on abortion and ultrasound that would help reduce abortions in the state. They are expected to be approved in the Senate but the state House defeated similar bills last year.

According to the Louisville Courier Journal, which reported on the debate leading to the vote:

“Senate Bill 102 would require women seeking abortions to get “face-to-face” counseling 24 hours in advance of the procedure. Current law allows such information to be provided by telephone,” it said. “Senate Bill 103 would require physicians to perform an ultrasound before an abortion and attempt to show the image of the fetus to the pregnant woman although she could refuse to look at it. The bill would impose a fine of as much as $250,000 on a medical provider who violates the requirement.”

“The Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection approved both bills Thursday but not before some objections from three Democrats on the panel who voted no,” the newspaper added. “SB 102 passed on a vote of 8-3 and SB 103, 7-3 with Stein and Sens. Tim Shaughnessy and Perry Clark, both of Louisville, voting no.”

Last year, the House voted down pro-life legislation.

The House was 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. During the debate on the bill in the House Health and Welfare Committee, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, a Republican, asked lawmakers to allow a vote on the bill in the full state House.

“For many legislators, it is the number one issue,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I think this issue is so important.”

But the committee rejected Senate Bill 9 on a vote of 9-7.

The bill allowed 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 was 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.

After the Senate approved the bill, Mary Spaulding Balch, the attorney who oversees state legislation for National Right to Life, said she was delighted.

“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 said 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.”

In 2010, the Kentucky Senate approved the same ultrasound bill, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Tori, a Republican, but it died in the state House.

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 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.