Abortion Bill The First Delivered To Gov. Matt Bevin
In a session so far dominated by discussions about pensions and getting the state's fiscal house in order, the first bill destined for Gov. Matt Bevin's inbox deals with abortion.
On a 33-5 vote Monday, the Kentucky Senate put the final stamp of approval on an informed consent bill limiting the mandatory 24-hour pre-abortion consultation between women and their doctors to an in-person meeting or online telehealth session. The aim is to prevent consultations taking place over the phone, a practice critics say skirts the original intent of the 1998 rule.
Claiming victory for persistent pro-life advocates who have waited more than a decade, Majority Leader Damon Thayer had this message for women seeking to terminate a pregnancy in the commonwealth: "It is my hope and my fervent prayer, Mr. President, that they will think twice about the action they are about to take."
One of the few nay votes, Jefferson County Democrat Denise Harper Angel said the legislation just places one more roadblock in front of women accessing a legal procedure, especially for patients living hours away from the state's lone abortion providers in Lexington and Louisville.
"You have to go twice, maybe take off work again to do that, and they might not have the opportunity for telehealth," she said. "The whole reason is to have an additional burden."
Senate President Robert Stivers argued those without access to an internet connection capable of handling real-time chat could look to public libraries for assistance.
As for future abortion bills, the prospects look more promising than in years past as Democrats cling to a scant majority in the lower chamber.
"There's a number of those bill that likely will be received favorably over here," he told WUKY. "Can't say they all will, but there will be a number of those bills that will fare better than they used to."
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on Gov. Bevin to veto the bill. On that score, Stivers says, "Lots of luck."