abortion

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Abortion rights advocates say Indiana Gov. Mike Pence should veto a bill that would ban abortions sought because the fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome.

About 30 activists spoke out against the measure Monday at the Statehouse and delivered a petition with about 2,700 signatures asking Pence to reject the bill.

After the measure was passed last week, a national group representing gynecologists wrote a letter to Pence also urging a veto.

The governor could allow the law to go into effect by simply not acting on it within seven days after the bill is filed to his office. As of Monday morning, the bill had not yet reached Pence's desk.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has filed a lawsuit against a second Kentucky abortion provider, alleging the facility provided abortions without a license.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Eubanks & Marshall of Lexington, PSC, which does business as EMW Women’s Clinic. It alleges the clinic wasn’t properly licensed, and didn’t have proper transfer agreements in place with a hospital and ambulance service. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services filed the lawsuit.

“Last month it was brought to our attention that EMW in Lexington is operating without a license,” said CHFS Secretary Vickie Yates Glisson in a press release. “Our inspectors visited the location and confirmed that EMW is unlicensed and does not have the required ambulance transfer agreement in place to protect women in the case of emergency. Furthermore, the inspector found the facility in an unsanitary condition. Regrettably, the location had not been inspected since 2006. There are laws in place to protect our citizens, and we will ensure the laws are upheld.”

LRC Public Information

New Kentucky abortion clinics would have to meet more strict medical standards before they could open under a bill that has cleared a state Senate committee.

The bill would require abortion clinics to get a certificate of need from state regulators and meet standards of an ambulatory surgery center. The bill would apply to abortion clinics licensed after July 1. The state legislature exempted abortion clinics from the requirements in 1998.

Derek Selznick with the ACLU of Kentucky said the bill is designed to shutter the state's few freestanding abortion clinics. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration supports the bill, saying the state needs power to regulate the clinics to keep the procedures safe.

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a similar law in Texas.

LRC Public Information

Democratic State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian of Louisville has proposed a bill that would require men to have two in-person visits with a doctor before receiving a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra.

Men would also be required to swear that they will only use the pills to have sex with their spouse, who must also provide written consent.

Marzian acknowledges that the bill is a tongue-in-cheek response to anti-abortion legislation put forward by conservative lawmakers, but she’s drawn national attention for the move.

Our Capitol reporter Ryland Barton sat down with Marzian for this interview.

Creative Commons

Men would need to clear new hurdles to get prescriptions for erectile dysfunction under a bill filed Thursday in the state House.

State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat, said the bill seeks to balance the recent legislative scrutiny of women’s reproductive health with a dose of attention to men.

“The current legislature does not mind inserting itself into personal, private decisions of the 2 million women of the commonwealth that may need reproductive health services,” Marzian said.

“So if we’re going to start inserting ourselves into reproductive issues and health issues, then I think we should also insert them into men’s reproductive health issues.”

The bill would require men to have two meetings with a doctor before receiving a prescription for products like Viagra.

Men would also be required to make a sworn statement — hand on Bible — that the prescription would only be used during sexual relations with their current spouse.

Spouses would have to provide a signed and dated letter providing consent.

When asked how her colleagues received the bill, Marzian said “all of them claimed they don’t know anything about erectile dysfunction.”

LRC Public Information

The state Senate has approved a bill requiring women who seek an abortion in Kentucky to view or hear a description of a sonogram image of their own fetus.

The legislation is one in a handful of anti-abortion measures being pushed through the General Assembly this year.

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Hopkinsville Republican and the bill’s primary sponsor, clashed Thursday morning with opponents of the bill, who say it would violate women’s right to have an abortion.

“If you think this isn’t about making sure that mother has all the information that she needs and that this is no more than a political stunt, well, we’re just going to have to disagree,” Westerfield said

The bill would require a doctor to provide a “simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting,” including the location of the fetus in the uterus and a medical description of the body.

The committee approved the bill 11-1. State Sen. Perry Clark, a Louisville Democrat, was the lone no vote.

LRC Public Information

The state Senate on Tuesday approved striking from the budget a portion of the state’s contribution to Planned Parenthood, with the bill’s supporters pointing to the Louisville branch’s recent efforts to begin providing abortions.

The bill is largely symbolic. The state gets about $5.6 million in federal Title X funds, which are supposed to go to family planning and reproductive health programs. About $331,000 of that went to Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. But in December, the Louisville Planned Parenthood branch opted out of Title X funding.

State Sen. Max Wise, a Republican from Campbellsville, said he introduced the bill in reaction to undercover videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal organs.

“Until more significant changes can be made at the federal level, we must do what we can to keep public funds from groups like Planned Parenthood, which callously profit from death,” Wise said.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky’s leader is hopeful the organization can soon resume providing abortions at its downtown Louisville clinic.

The Planned Parenthood chapter began providing abortions at the recently opened Louisville facility on Jan. 21, but Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration ordered it to cease providing abortion services on Friday. The administration said Planned Parenthood’s application for a license to perform abortions was deficient. The license was never formally issued.

What’s not immediately clear is what may happen if Planned Parenthood resolves the issues in the application indicated by the Bevin administration.

Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the Planned Parenthood chapter will work to address the issues that Bevin administration has cited.

LRC Public Information

The “informed consent” abortion bill is heading to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk, and he’s expected to sign it.

The state Senate concurred on Monday with the House’s version of the legislation, which would require women seeking an abortion to meet with a doctor 24 hours in advance of the procedure in person or over live video

The bill, which passed the Senate 33-5, would be Bevin’s first signed into law.

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer applauded the bill, which he says will make women think more carefully about getting an abortion.

“It is my hope and my fervent prayer that they will think twice about the action that they are about to take,” said Thayer, a Republican.

Kentucky already has an informed consent law on the books, but it allows women to have the meetings over the phone.

Ryland Barton, Kentucky Public Radio

The state inspector general ordered the Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky to immediately cease providing abortion on Thursday, the same day the organization announced it had begun offering the services.

In a letter sent to LaToya Rose, director of the Planned Parenthood chapter, acting Inspector General Stephane Hold said that the organization’s application for an abortion license had been found “deficient.”

In Kentucky, abortion facilities are required to have an agreement with an acute care hospital and an ambulance service that can provide treatment for abortion patients who have complications during the procedure.

The inspector general said in the letter that Planned Parenthood’s documentation of an emergency hospital and ambulance service were inadequate.

“The absence of adequate written agreements with an acute care hospital and a local ambulance service prevent us from continuing our review of your application at this time,” the letter said.

LRC Public Information

Hours after Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky announced its Louisville clinic had begun providing abortions, the state House approved a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to meet — in person or via video conference — with a doctor at least 24 hours before the procedure.

The bill, which passed 92-3, is a victory for Republicans who have failed to pass so-called “informed consent” bills through the Democratic-led House for more than a decade.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, a Republican from Jamestown, called it a “historic day.”

“The informed consent law was something that many of us have long fought for, many members of our caucus, and we knew members of our majority caucus would vote for it if we could ever get it there,” Hoover said.

The bill originally required the meetings to take place in person, but the video conference option was added during an unposted committee hearing that took place in an office during the middle of the day’s proceedings.

LRC Public Information

A senate committee on Thursday passed a bill that would allow the state to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood in Kentucky.

State Sen. Max Wise, a Republican from Campbellsville, said until the U.S. has a pro-life president, states have to restrict funds to Planned Parenthood in order to restrict abortions.

“We’ve got a large number of constituents that want to see something done with Planned Parenthood,” Wise said.

Planned Parenthood in Kentucky do not provide abortions, but can refer women to abortion providers.

The bill would restrict Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding, federal grants that go to family planning and reproductive health programs.

LRC Public Information

The Kentucky Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours prior to the procedure.

The bill now moves on to the House, which has refused to take it up in the past, although support has been growing in the chamber.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said it’s important for women to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor prior to an abortion.

“The essence of it is you can have better understanding, watch body language and the personal effects when you have that type of personal interaction,” Stivers said. “I think it brings more to light what the implications of the decision are.”

Kentucky already has an “informed consent” law on the books, but currently abortion-seekers can receive the information over the phone.

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.

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