abortion

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill into law creating a mandatory waiting period before getting an abortion in Tennessee.

Under the new law signed Monday, women would need to wait at least 48 hours before undergoing the procedure. The House approved the measure on a 79-18 vote, while the Senate passed its version 24-2.

The governor previously signed into law another bill that requires facilities or physician offices to be licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers if they perform more than 50 abortions in a year.

The legislation came after voters in November approved a constitutional amendment giving state lawmakers more power to regulate abortions. The ballot measure overturned a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that had thrown out laws imposing similar restrictions.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a newly declared Republican presidential candidate, is dodging a central question about abortion: What exceptions, if any, should be made if the procedure were to be banned?

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Paul would not say where, in his view, a pregnant woman's rights begin and those of the fetus end.

"The thing is about abortion — and about a lot of things — is that I think people get tied up in all these details of, sort of, you're this or this or that, or you're hard and fast (on) one thing or the other," Paul said.

In the past, Paul has supported legislation that would ban abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother's life. At other times, he has backed bills seeking a broader abortion ban without those exceptions.

Campaigning in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Paul told the AP that people get too tied up in these details and it's his conviction that "life is special and deserves protection."

Paul entered the GOP race Tuesday and is this week campaigning in the first four states to vote in the nomination contest.

Exceptions in any abortion ban are a politically sensitive topic for Paul and some of his rivals. They want to nudge the party away from a focus on such social issues, but know that winning the nomination requires some backing from religious conservatives who press for strict, if not absolute limits on abortion.

In Iowa, where Paul will campaign Friday, Rev. Terry Amann of Walnut Creek Community Church near Des Moines said he saw no place for equivocation on the issue.

Tennessee Voters To Decide On Abortion Amendment

Oct 6, 2014
Tennessee Supreme Court

Tennessee voters will have a chance this November to decide whether they want to give the state Legislature more power to regulate abortions.

In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court struck down laws requiring a two-day waiting period and mandatory physician-only counseling and preventing second-trimester abortions from taking place anywhere but in a hospital.

In its ruling, the court wrote that because the provisions weren't narrowly tailored to promote maternal health, they violated a woman's fundamental right to privacy as guaranteed in the Tennessee Constitution.

Abortion opponents immediately began planning to change the Constitution. The result is an amendment that reads, in part, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion," that will be before voters on Nov. 4.

A pro-choice religious group says a Kentucky-based abortion counseling center is using misleading tactics to dissuade women from getting the procedure.

The Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice led 40 protesters over the weekend in a demonstration against downtown Louisville’s  “A Woman’s Choice Resource Center.”  KRCRC president Caitlin Willenbrink says the counseling center is one of 100 similar faith-based anti-abortion organizations that use false science .

“They also give out a lot of information that isn’t credible, like information that draws a link between abortion and breast cancer or abortion and mental health issues,” said Willenbrink. “That’s not supported by credible science.”

Willenbrink designed the protest, she says, to draw attention to the issue in advance of the National Right-to-Life Conference, which will be held at the Kentucky International Convention Center this weekend.

Democrats Quash Anti-Abortion Bills in Committee

Mar 20, 2014

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.

Kentucky LRC

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.

Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill to require any woman seeking an abortion to have a "face-to-face" meeting with a medical professional before the procedure.

The measure seeks to update the state's informed consent law. It requires women to receive counseling and then wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion.

The bill passed the Senate on a 33-5 vote Wednesday and now goes to the House.

Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, the bill's lead sponsor, says abortion providers have "found a way around" the law's intent by providing the information through recorded telephone messages.

Gregory, R-Monticello, says in-person meetings would ensure women are fully informed before making a potential "life-ending decision."

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, says the bill is intended to cause a "guilt trip" for women seeking abortions.

A Kentucky Senate committee has overwhelmingly approved a measure that would require women to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor or health care provider before having an abortion.

The Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection passed the measure on an 8-to-2 vote Thursday morning. The bill will next be heard by the full Senate next week.

Supporters believe it has a good chance of passing the Senate, but similar measures have repeatedly died in House committees during previous legislative sessions.

Opponents argue the requirement of a face-to-face meeting would place undue burdens on women seeking abortions.

A Republican lawmaker has amended a bill expanding domestic violence protections for dating couples to include language limiting abortions.

Rep. Joe Fischer of Ft. Thomas says he believes abortion is a form of domestic violence.

“The most brutal form of domestic violence is the violence against unborn children," the northern Kentucky Republican said. "And, this particular bill would prohibit abortions after the fetus feels pain, which is 20 weeks and older.”

The amendment will have to come up for inclusion on the House floor. It's likely to attract criticism from Democrats who will say it isn’t germane to the legislation.

The bulk of scientific literature on the subject suggests that fetuses do not feel pain before 24 weeks of gestation.

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a similar case today Monday regarding an Arizona law that would ban abortions at 20 weeks. That effectively preserved a previous ruling that the Arizona law was unconstitutional.

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