The Kentucky General Assembly has six bills pending that are aimed at restricting or eliminating abortion in the state.
Here’s where they stand:
Fetal heartbeat bill: Senate Bill 9
The “fetal heartbeat” bill would make abortion illegal once a heartbeat is detectable in the fetus, usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.
Supporters, including Sen. Matt Castlen, an Owensboro Republican and the bill’s sponsor, say it would protect life of unborn children.
Opponents say it is unconstitutional and would virtually eliminate abortion in Kentucky because many women don’t realize they are pregnant until at least six weeks. They have vowed to challenge it in court should it become law.
The bill has passed the Senate and is pending in the House.
Fetal heartbeat bill: House Bill 100
This is the House version of the fetal heartbeat bill. It is sponsored by Rep. Robert Goforth, a Republican from East Bernstadt, and has not yet been called for a vote.
Complete ban on abortion: House Bill 148
This bill would ban abortion in Kentucky if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Rep. Joe Fischer, a Fort Thomas Republican, says the bill would allow Kentucky to have in place a law banning abortion in the event a more conservative Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Opponents say it is unnecessary and based on speculation about what the Supreme Court may do.
The bill has passed the House and is pending in the Senate.
Abortion based on race, gender or disability of fetus: House Bill 5
This would ban abortions if the woman is seeking one because of the race, gender or disability of the fetus. It has been adopted in several states as an effort to protect fetuses with Down syndrome and other disabilities.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, a Greenville Republican, and other supporters say it is necessary to protect the human rights of the unborn child.
Opponents say it strips choices from women, especially in cases in which a fetal abnormality has been detected that means the fetus is unlikely to survive.
The bill passed a House committee and is awaiting floor action.
Making doctors provide disputed claims about abortions: Senate Bill 50
This bill would require that doctors provide disputed information to patients that medication abortions induced by taking a series of pills can be reversed. It originally was filed only clarify that doctors or clinics must report abortions induced by medication as well as all other abortions to the state.
Sen. Robby Mills, a Henderson Republican and the bill’s sponsor, said he wants to make sure patients are given complete information about medication abortions as well as clarifying that all pregnancy terminations are reported to the Kentucky Vital Statistics Branch.
Opponents say there are no medical studies that support claims that medication abortions can be reversed by administering certain medications and such claims are misleading. And they said there is no need for the reporting requirement of the original version of the bill because such information already is reported by the state’s only abortion clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, and available from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The bill has passed the Senate and was passed by a House committee Thursday after changing it to add that doctors must advise patients medication abortions may be reversed.
Prohibiting denial of medical care or nourishment: Senate Bill 227
This bill would require a doctor performing an abortion to take all necessary steps to preserve the life of an infant if born alive. It also would ban withholding nourishment or medical care of an infant.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Hopkinisville Republican, has not yet been called for discussion or a vote.
People wishing to comment on the bills or contact lawmakers may do so by calling 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing them through the Legislative Research Commission website.
By Deborah Yetter
Louisville Courier Journal