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Four Bills Aim To Further Restrict Abortion In Kentucky. Here's Where They Stand.

Josh James

An array of anti-abortion bills unveiled by the Kentucky General Assembly's self-described pro-life caucus early this year remain on pace to reach the governor's desk. Wednesday, a fourth emerged from committee.

This latest measure on the move is House Bill 5, which prohibits abortion for reasons of "sex, race, color, national origin, or disability." Sponsor, Representative Nancy Tate, said under the bill women seeking an abortion would need to answer questions about why they want the procedure.

"When a patient, or to-be mother, finds out that she is pregnant, those things are obviously discussed, and so those questions will be asked in the future," the Hardin County Republican said.

Advocates testified that the bill would provide a new protection against disability discrimination. Included in the bill's definition of disability is "any disease, defect, or disorder," whether or not it is inherited. An exception is carved out for lethal fetal anomalies.

The bill is part of a package of anti-abortion measures poised for passage. Tamarra Wieder with Planned Parenthood says they put Kentucky on the road to becoming "the most restrictive state in the nation."

"Kentucky is racing to the finish line to be the first in the nation to end Roe v. Wade," she adds. "And they have several other states that are with them in this race."

Three measures, including one outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, have cleared one chamber of the General Assembly and await passage in the other. Wednesday's vote in committee sends HB 5, the fourth, to the full House.

"I think the General Assembly has been ramping up to this," says Kate Miller with the ACLU, which is promising legal challenges. "There is no doubt that this is part of a national strategy to ensure that abortion is 100 percent inaccessible to every individual, regardless of where they are in their pregnancy, their personal circumstances, and when you look at the bills today, regardless of the health of the fetus."

Proponents argue it's a movement that's time has come.

"As we continue in this great battle, let us pray for Sen. McConnell and President Trump to bolster our federal judiciary with men and women who will reverse the holding in Roe v. Wade," Republican Sen. Joe Fischer said at the press conference announcing the rollout.

Fifteen days remain in this year's 30-day session.

Here's where the bills currently stand.

Senate Bill 9: This measure outlawing most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, often around six weeks, has passed the Kentucky Senate and has been assigned to the House Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection.

Senate Bill 50: The bill mandating that physicians report all precriptions for abortion-related drugs, like RU-486, to the Vital Statistic Branch for publication received a favorable vote in the Kentucky Senate and awaits action in a House committee.

House Bill 5: This measure outlawing abortion for reasons of race, sex, national origin, color, or disability passed the House Committee on Vetereans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection and is on its way to committee in the full House.

House Bill 148: This measure automatically triggering an across-the-board abortion ban from conception onward if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade has passed the House and been received in the Senate. No committee has been assigned.

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