Kentucky Lawmakers Successfully Block Several Abortion Restrictions

CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Kentucky lawmakers voted down three different anti-abortion bills on Thursday, ensuring that the Republican-sponsored legislation won’t be able to advance. The proposed bills all intended to make it more difficult for women to end a pregnancy.

Two of the measures would have required women to undergo an ultrasound before being allowed to proceed with an abortion. Doctors would have been required to display the ultrasound image to their patients and offer to give them a copy. Thes type of abortion restrictions, currently in place in 23 states, are often called “informed consent” requirements. But they’re actually more about trying to convince women to change their minds about choosing an abortion.

“These bills are really about trying to make it more difficult, more onerous on women to get an abortion. Really, they come from a place of coercion and not consent,” Derek Selznick, the director of the Reproductive Freedom Project for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, explained after Thursday’s vote.

The third bill would have required a woman to consult with an abortion provider in person to obtain information about the procedure, rather than being able to speak over the phone. This measure also falls under the category of “informed consent,” since GOP lawmakers claimed it would allow women to receive more informational pamphlets so they can be sure they’re making the right decision. But it ultimately could have required rural women to make multiple trips across the state to get to the nearest clinic, burdening them with additional travel costs that many women can’t afford.

After a contentious debate that involved one lawmaker brandishing images of her grandson’s ultrasound to make the point that women need to be required to look at their fetus, the bills were defeated along party lines. Democrats in Kentucky’s legislature have successfully blocked these type of informed consent measures for several years in a row.

However, other states with different political make-ups are moving in the opposite direction. States like Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Georgia are all currently advancing dangerous abortion restrictions. The new measures are on top of the more than 200 anti-abortion laws that states have enacted since 2011.