Kentucky Governor Signs Pro-Life Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 10, 2017   |   11:19AM   |   Frankfort, Kentucky

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed two abortion-related bills to protect unborn babies and women over the weekend, just days after they were introduced in the legislature.

On Saturday, the state House and Senate fast-tracked the bills to their governor’s desk, a sign of the new legislature’s dedication to protecting human life. The two new laws prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require women to receive an ultrasound and the opportunity to see it prior to having an abortion.

Ky Forward reports Bevin signed the two abortion-related measures, along with five others that the new legislature approved during the first week of the session.

“This is truly a new day in Kentucky, as our General Assembly has worked in an unprecedented manner to advance the people’s business,” Bevin said in a statement. “It is an honor for me to sign into law these historic pieces of legislation that protect our most vulnerable …”

One of the two bills, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain. Legislators also established a litigation fund as part of the bill to help the state defend the bill if abortion activists challenge it, the Associated Press reports.

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The new law makes 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.

The second bill, the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, requires medical staff 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 and allow the mother to hear the baby’s heartbeat.

State Rep. Kimberly Moser, R-Taylor Mill, previously 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.

CNN reports both bills include an emergency provision that allows them to take effect as soon as the governor signs them into law. However, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the ultrasound bill on Monday, according to Ky Forward.

WFIE 14 News reports the Kentucky House and Senate passed both bills with “overwhelmingly bipartisan” support in a rare Saturday session, and sent them to the pro-life governor’s desk for final approval.

Last Thursday, abortion activists held a rally in the state Capitol protesting the two bills, according to local news reports. After the bills passed, Kate Miller of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky blasted them as little more than a “political intrusion” into women’s personal decisions.

Kentucky lawmakers have been trying to pass legislation such as the ultrasound bill for years, but the legislation always failed to pass the Democrat-controlled state House. Reuters reports 2017 is the first year that Republicans have had a majority in the Kentucky House of Representatives since 1921.