FRANKFORT—Kentucky House Republicans managed to do Jan. 6 what they’d been trying to accomplish for years: pass legislation that would require women to undergo ultrasounds before having abortions.
Kentucky voters elected a super majority of pro-life Republicans in the November election, paving the way for passage of the ultrasound bill. Re-publicans were joined by most of the remaining Democrats in the House in passing the ultrasound bill 83-12.
The measure, a top priority for the Republican-controlled legislature, cleared its final legislative hurdle on Saturday with a 32-5 vote in the Senate. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law.
The legislation requires physicians to display the ultrasound images so women can see them. However, they would have the option to avert their eyes. The measure calls for a $100,000 fine against abortion providers for a first offense and a $250,000 fine for subsequent offenses.
State Rep. Addia Wuchner, R.-Burlington, said ultrasounds will provide women with information that’s vital in making decisions about whether to have an abortion.
“This is not a bill about abortion; it’s a bill about knowledge,” said state Rep. Jim DuPlessis, a newly elected Republican lawmaker.
State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, decried what she described as elected officials making medical decisions. “This from the majority party who say they want less government in peo-ple’s lives,” she said.
The Senate, meanwhile, approved legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Physicians who violate the measure could have their medical licenses revoked.
“This protects pain-capable children from cruelty,” said Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard. “It’s unacceptable this is happening to our children. There is no doubt in Kentucky we care and now have a chance to end this practice.”
The legislation to ban late-term abortions cleared the chamber 30-6 and received its final vote in the House on Saturday, where it passed 79-15, and also was sent to the governor for his signature. The measure provides an exception in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger, but doesn’t make exceptions for rape, incest or mental health problems.
“Kentucky Baptists have been working, hoping, and praying for this day for a very long time,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“The first responsibility of government is to provide security for its citizens, and today that promise is being fulfilled for babies who, in most cases, could survive outside of the womb,” he said. (BP)