Kentucky moves toward requiring ultrasound before abortion

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By Steve Bittenbender | LOUISVILLE, Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Kentucky’s new Republican House
majority took the first step on Thursday toward requiring women
seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, acting swiftly to
capitalize on winning control of the chamber for the first time
in almost a century.

The 83-12 vote on the bill came on the third day of the
state’s 2017 General Assembly session, the first in which the
Republican Party has led the House of Representatives since

The bill requires a physician or qualified technician to
perform the ultrasound and position the screen so the woman may
view the images. The medical staff will be required to describe
what the images show, including the size of the fetus and any
organs or appendages visible.

Sponsors say the bill will better protect the health of
women and provide the materials necessary for women to make an
informed choice. Abortion rights advocates contend such laws are
designed to frighten and shame those seeking an abortion.

Some 25 states have laws regarding ultrasounds and
abortions, but only three states require medical staff to
display and describe the images, according to the Kaiser Family
Foundation, a non-profit group focusing on health issues.

While Kentucky’s bill passed easily, some supporters
criticized the new House leadership for pushing the legislation
through so quickly that it might open the state to a lawsuit if,
as expected, the bill becomes law.

“I think that had we had a chance to discuss this bill, we
might have come up with something that was not going to open
this state up to millions of dollars in litigation” costs, said
Democratic state Representative Angie Hatton.

The state’s Republican-controlled Senate passed another
measure that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

After passing the ultrasound bill, the House approved two
measures strongly opposed by labor groups. The first was a
proposal that would allow workers in union shops to receive
union benefits without having to pay dues, The second measure
would repeal prevailing wage laws Republicans say add expenses
to state and local construction projects.

Leaders in both chambers plan to meet this weekend to pass
bills to be sent to Republican Governor Matt Bevin for approval,
House Republican Caucus spokeswoman Daisy Olivo said.

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