Three bills that would place more restrictions on abortion access in Kentucky have been rejected in party-line votes.
The House Health & Welfare Committee voted down two similar bills that would require ultrasounds for women seeking abortions and penalize doctors who don’t comply. The committee also rejected a measure requiring women to meet in person with their doctor prior to obtaining an abortion.
Derek Selznick is executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky’s Reproductive Freedom Project. He says the mandatory ultrasounds would be traumatic to a woman who conceived a child after being raped.
“While a doctor or somebody is actually holding a transvaginal wand inside of a woman and must explain what they’re seeing on the screen. And that, you know, for, once again, for a woman who’s been raped, that is just adding trauma to that experience,” said Selznick.
Michael Janocik with the Kentucky Right-to-Life Association says one measure contains language permitting exemptions in case of a medical emergency, though rape is not explicitly listed as one of them.
The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo a mandatory ultrasound.
The measure passed 33-5 Wednesday with wide Republican support. This is the tenth year the bill has cleared the Senate. All previous efforts have gone on to die in the Democratically-controlled House.
The bill does not provide an exemption for victims of rape. Bill sponsor Whitney Westerfield acknowledges that transvaginal ultrasounds could be traumatic for rape victims.
“I’m not compelling that particular use, and I think that probably would be traumatic and I don’t know, I don’t presume to know what a woman would be thinking in that position, but I think it probably would be," the Hopkinsville Republican said. "They oughta have the option of which ultrasound. That’s why I didn’t write it so it’d be compelled.”
Dissenters say the bill is degrading to women, and similar laws in other states are costing taxpayers money as a result of legal challenges.
Westerfield said he had not had a chance to review those cases.
A Kentucky Senate committee has passed a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo a mandatory ultrasound procedure.
Senate Bill 8 is the latest anti-abortion measure to clear the panel.
Lawmakers heard testimony from Derrick Selznick, who is director of the ACLU of Kentucky’s Reproductive Freedom Project. Selznick opposes the bill on the grounds that it’s demeaning to women.
“So for the majority of women that this will effect in Kentucky, there will have to have [sic] a vaginal ultrasound," Selznick said. "And the courts have ruled that the only way a woman can dissent, even though it is written into the law that they can avert their eyes, the only way she can can fulfill that is to wear blinders and noise cancelling headphones. And if that isn’t degrading, I don’t know what is.”
Bill sponsor Whitney Westerfield says the measure is designed to protect innocent life.
Another anti-abortion bill, Senate Bill 3, passed in that chamber last week.