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Kentucky Republicans push ban on abortion procedure they call 'cruel and gruesome'

Jack Brammer, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in News & Features

FRANKFORT, Ky.--A proposal in the Kentucky legislature would ban a common form of abortion for women who have been pregnant for 11 or more weeks, a change opponents say would force many women to undergo a procedure that is more costly, takes longer and involves a hospital stay.

House Bill 454 would prohibit an abortion procedure called "dilation and evacuation" 11 weeks or later into a pregnancy except in medical emergencies. Doctors generally use the procedure in the second trimester.

State Rep. Addia Wuchner, who sponsored the bill, said the abortion procedure is "cruel and gruesome" and involves the dismemberment of a human fetus. At 10 week of pregnancy, an ultrasound can show the hands, arms, legs, fingers, toes, ears and feet of an unborn baby, she said.

The procedure involves the dilation of the cervix and surgical evacuation of the contents of the uterus, often used as a method of abortion and a therapeutic procedure after miscarriage to prevent infection by ensuring that the uterus is fully clear.

Kentucky Right to Life, which supports the measure, said it would "preserve the dignity of the DNA-designed fetus."

The ACLU of Kentucky said the bill would bring government interference into the lives of women and points out that similar bans on abortions have been blocked by courts in five states -- Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Alabama.

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Democratic Rep. Tom Burch predicted it will cost Kentucky taxpayers about $1 million to defend the measure from a possible lawsuit.

The bill awaits consideration by the full House. The House Judiciary Committee approved it Wednesday on a 13-4 vote.

Brian Shoemaker, assistant executive director of Kentucky Right to Life, said the bill is worded differently from other states that have run into legal problems with their ban.

"We are stressing that this does not outlaw abortions. We are just saying that this particular brutal type of procedure for abortions should be banned," said Shoemaker.


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