Kentucky Senate Passes Bill Allowing Women to See Ultrasound of Their Baby Before an Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 1, 2016   |   1:59PM   |   Washington, DC

Kentucky state Senators passed a bill Monday to require that abortion doctors perform an ultrasound and describe the unborn baby to the mother before an abortion.

The Courier-Journal reports Kentucky Senate Bill 152 passed with a strong majority in the Kentucky Senate but could face opposition in the state House.

The bill would require abortion center staff to display the ultrasound image for the woman and describe the dimensions of her unborn baby and the presence of internal organs, if seen, according to the Associated Press. The bill includes fines of up to $100,000 for the first offense and $250,000 for subsequent offenses if abortion doctors violate the law by failing to give women the opportunity to see the ultrasound of their unborn child, the report states.

Prior to the vote Monday, state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, who sponsored the bill, explained why the measure was so important. He said a friend of his shared her abortion story with him and told him how an abortion clinic nurse refused to let her see her unborn child on the ultrasound screen.

“She regrets to this day not being able to see it —knowing now, feeling certain, that had she been able to see it, had she been allowed to see it — she wouldn’t have made the decision that she did,” Westerfield said. “Regardless of everyone’s position on abortion in this chamber, I think we can all agree that fewer is better.”

However, there were a few vocal opponents of the bill. Derek Selznick, representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, called the bill “flawed” and mentioned that a similar law in North Carolina had been struck down in court, the report states.

Selznick said the bill leaves “no room for a doctor to actually treat her patient as a human being. This calls for blanket statements that need to be made by the physician regardless if the woman undergoing the procedure says,  ‘No, I don’t want to hear this.’”

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In attempt to mock the ultrasound bill, a Kentucky Democratic representative also introduced a bill to require men to swear on the Bible to be faithful to their wives before receiving erectile dysfunction prescriptions.

In February, pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin also signed into law a requirement that abortion clinics conduct either an in-person or a real-time video consultation between a doctor and woman at least 24 hours before having an abortion. During the meeting, the woman will be informed about the risks of abortion, the age of her unborn baby and the support available to her if she chooses childbirth.

Legislators said the informed consent bill was needed because some abortion facilities were not conducting live consultations with women before abortion procedures; instead, they would instruct women to call in and listen to a recorded message, which didn’t allow women to ask questions or voice concerns, according to the AP.

The informed consent bill became the first pro-life law passed in the Kentucky legislature in more than a decade.