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FRANKFORT, Ky. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pro-life legislation in Kentucky is getting closer to final approval. Matt Bevin, the governor of Kentucky, is expected to sign two bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and require an ultrasound before a woman chooses to abort her baby.
House Bill 2 (HB2) and Senate Bill 5 (SB5) were passed by the state legislature on Saturday, January 7. HB2, the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, mandates that a doctor or technician perform an ultrasound and display the images to the mother, as well as playing audio of the baby's heartbeat before the mother chooses to abort. Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of women choose not to abort their children after seeing an ultrasound.
SB5 is the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans any abortions being performed on unborn children who can experience pain. This type of legislation has been passed in 15 other states, and Kentucky will very likely be the next state to adopt this legislation. SB5 bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and doesn't provide exceptions for rape or incest. The bill wouldn't apply in cases where the mother's life is at risk, or where the mother would be at risk of serious bodily harm.
Both bills passed in their respective houses by overwhelming margins: HB2 was passed in the House by a vote of 83–12, and in the Senat by a margin of 32–5. SB5 was passed in the Senate by a vote of 30–6 and received final approval in the House by a margin of 79–15.
State Representative Melinda Prunty co-sponsored HB2 and remarked, "As a top priority of my campaign platform and what resonated loudly with constituents throughout the district, I am proud to have cast my first vote as a representative for pro-life legislation, something that has been a long time in coming."
Addia Wuchner, chairwoman of the House Health and Family Services Committee, commented,
This week, common sense legislation to protect life and provide women with appropriate medical information has passed the Kentucky General Assembly. There is nothing more pro-woman than protecting the life of a child, assuring that all women are provided complete medical information when such a critical life-impacting decision is faced.
The governor is widely expected to sign both bills into law and has been a strong pro-life voice during his time in office. In February 2016, Bevin's first piece of legislation passed as governor was a pro-life law requiring informed consent, ensuring a consultation between a doctor and patient takes place at least 24 hours before an abortion is carried out. It had been the first pro-life law passed in the the state in 12 years.
During the consultation, the patient is informed of the risks inherent in the abortion procedure, and she is told about the options available to her if she chooses to keep the child. After signing the bill into law, Bevin commented, "Many have fought for a long, long time to see meaningful pro-life legislation come out of this legislature and be signed into law. This is the first of any significance in 12 years."
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, responded to Bevin's signing of the bill, remarking, "Kentucky is blessed to have a governor who leads by serving. Governor Bevin's immediate action to sign the new informed consent for abortion law is a great act of service not only to pregnant mothers but also the state as a whole."
In February 2016, Bevin's administration filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood (PP), alleging that PP had performed abortions without a license at its new facility in Louisville.
In a press release from Bevin he said, "Planned Parenthood should be required to pay fines in the maximum amount allowed by law in order to punish it for its callous and knowing violations of law and to deter it and others from such violations in the future."
Lawyers for Bevin's administration sought more than $500,000 in fines for 23 abortions performed in December and January of 2016 at the Louisville clinic. Judge Mitch Perry dismissed the lawsuit in July of 2016, stating that PP had "consistent communication" with the Kentucky state cabinet before and after it started performing abortions.
In response, Amanda Stamper, Bevin's press secretary, commented, "We will certainly appeal this troubling decision and will continue making every effort to enforce the clear laws of Kentucky, like the one requiring all abortion facilities to be properly licensed."