Kentucky Baptists and other conservative Christians across the Commonwealth will have much to celebrate this coming Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, Jan. 22. Kentucky lawmakers approved enacting two impactful pieces of pro-life legislation last week and sent them to the governor’s desk.
In 2016, we saw the first pro-life bill enacted in Kentucky in more than a decade. That amendment to the state’s informed consent law requires women to consult with their doctors either in person or via video at least 24 hours prior to undergoing an abortion procedure. Hopefully, the consultations result in better informed decisions that save lives of unborn babies.
Under the first pro-life bill approved by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2017, women will be required to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion. Although women can avert their eyes and turn down the volume of the fetal heartbeat, physicians who fail to comply in displaying ultrasound images will face a fine of $100,000 for the first offense and $250,000 for subsequent offenses.
The second pro-life bill to receive final passage goes a step further, effectively banning late-term abortions. The supporting reasoning is that medical science purportedly indicates an unborn child is capable of pain at 20 weeks. The ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy, however, does provide an exception in cases in which a mother’s life is in danger. Physicians who violate this law could have their medical licenses revoked and face civil lawsuits.
Requiring the viewing of ultrasound images is an important step in making women aware of the significant risks and consequences of abortion procedures. And, while not every Kentucky mother who is considering abortion may decide to not go through with it, she will at least have an opportunity to make an informed choice and unborn babies will have a better chance at life, noted Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, in a blog post following Saturday’s legislative actions.
“Today we see evidence that God has heard our prayers and rewarded our efforts,” Chitwood wrote. “Only the God of Heaven knows how many babies’ lives will be saved by the events of this day, by the diligence of God’s people in prayer and in the pro-life battle, and the courage of elected officials who stand for life,” he added.
Indeed, many pro-life proponents in Kentucky never thought this day would come, and both pieces of pro-life legislation still may face legal challenges in the courts. Still, the incredible fact that our state legislature has even passed such impactful pro-life measures should not escape us. A huge victory for life has been won!
Now that our legislators have acted, Kentucky Baptists should express their gratitude in letters, emails or calls to their representatives and senators. And, we can continue to fulfill the biblical charge to speak out for “those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8) by reminding those around us of the value of all human life, supporting Sunrise Children’s Services and other foster care and adoption services for children in crises, and offering church ministries to help new mothers care for their newborn babies.