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GOP lawmaker wants state constitution to say Kentuckians have no right to an abortion

Alex Acquisto, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Political News

The three other failed attempts were made when Republicans were in the minority, Fischer said. "Now, it means something."

On Monday, Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, filed an emergency bill known as the "Born-Alive Infant Protection Act" that would force a medical provider who performs an abortion to "take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health" of an infant who is born alive after an attempted abortion. He filed a similar bill last year.

It also would amend statute language to formalize that any "born-alive infant shall be treated as a legal person," and that any person would be blocked from "performing scientific research on a born-alive infant." Any violators of the proposed statute language could have their medical license revoked and be charged with a Class D felony.

On the Senate floor Monday, Westerfield, who has the support of Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he expects the bill to pass and hopes the Legislature would vote to override a gubernatorial veto, should Beshear veto the bill.

Another bill concerning to abortion-rights groups this legislative session is HB 142, from state Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, which bars the release of state money to any group, organization or individual that "performs, induces, refers for, or counsels in favor of abortions," according to the bill language. The bill would not apply to funding for school abstinence programs.

Bechler on Tuesday said his bill wouldn't prevent a medical provider who receives state money from laying out a patient's options and include abortion as one of those options, it just cannot be recommended.

 

Kentucky already prohibits publicly funded abortions in statute except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment scenarios, said bill opponent Jackie McGranahan, reproductive rights field organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. Private insurers, too, are already barred from covering abortion services.

Going a step further to police conversations between a victim of sexual assault and a medical provider to ensure one isn't being referred or counseled to get an abortion is "honestly mind-blowing," she said.

"These decisions about pregnancies are personal, and can be very difficult," McGranahan said. "When a patient and a doctor are talking about fatal fetal diagnosis, this makes honest conversations illegal and unlawful."

If lawmakers approve the proposed abortion-related bills, Kentucky will have passed more than a half a dozen abortion restrictions since early 2018. ACLU Advocacy Director Kate Miller said it's clear that lawmakers "just want to do everything (to ensure that) every single Kentuckian who starts a pregnancy is forced to continue that pregnancy, regardless of the situation they might be in."

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