FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Persistent Senate Republicans pushed a bill over its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday in an effort to require doctors to allow women seeking abortions to look at ultrasound images.
The Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection passed the perennial measure Thursday morning on a 7-2 vote. The panel also gave thumbs up by the same margin to a second measure that would require that women get face-to-face consultations with medical professionals before undergoing abortions.
The proposals have repeatedly cleared the GOP-led Senate in recent years only to die in the Democratic-controlled House. And the prognosis is no better this year, though sponsors said they struggle to understand why.
"We're only asking that women be fully informed before undergoing this procedure," said Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville.
The ultrasound measure has been softened over the years from an original version that would have essentially required women to look at the images. Now, they don't have to look, but doctors do have to make them available.
The bill also calls for doctors who don't comply to be fined $100,000 for first offenses and $250,000 for subsequent offenses.
Derek Selznick, a staffer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said the legislation, if passed, would be an imposition on women seeking abortions because it would require them to make at least two trips to see doctors who perform abortions. For some rural residents in outlying communities, Selznick said that could mean long drives to Louisville and Lexington, forcing them to take more time off work and incur additional travel costs.
"There are also other ways to do this, such as telemedicine, which is becoming the standard of care, so to require a physical presence, I think, really denies where medicine is going," he said. "What we do know is that once women have to make that second trip, they have to arrange child care. If they're working an hourly job, they're not going to be losing one day's wages but two days' wages."
The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration, where it is expected to pass.
The legislation is Senate Bill 4 and 5.