Friday, January 29, 2016

Informed consent clears House

A consultation between a woman seeking an abortion and a health care provider would have to occur during an in-person meeting or through real-time video conferencing under a bill approved Thursday night by the state House.

The video conference option was added to Senate Bill 4 by the House Health and Welfare Committee shortly before the bill cleared the House on a 92-3 vote. Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted for the measure.

Only in-person, face-to-face consultation would have satisfied the state’s informed consent requirement under the original bill, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, which the Senate approved by a 32-5 vote last week.

SB 4 now returns to the Senate for consideration of the House changes.

Kentucky law already requires information be provided at least 24 hours before an abortion, but that information is often given over the phone, say supporters of SB 4.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, who successfully moved for passage of a floor amendment to correct an error in the bill before the House floor vote, said that moving SB 4 through the process “has been a battle.”

“It’s a tough issue for a lot of people. Many people believe very strongly on both sides of the issue,” said Hoover. “To be singled out as we are many times for particular issues from those who oppose our point of view—that’s not an easy thing to do. But there are good people with strong principles on both sides of this issue.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, called SB 4 a “remedy” that would allow women to receive information without creating an additional financial burden on them at an already difficult time.

“If you believe that (the informed consent law) hasn’t been adhered to because … information is given electronically via telephone… then this is the way to remedy that, and it’s a way to remedy it in a manner that’s fair to people that live all across Kentucky,” said Stumbo.