Tuesday, February 2, 2016

‘Informed consent’ bill heads to governor’s desk

The first bill the 2016 General Assembly delivered to the governor would require a an in-person or real-time video conference between a woman seeking an abortion and a health care provider at least 24 hours before the procedure.

The state Senate gave final passage of “informed consent” legislation, also known as Senate Bill 4, as amended by the House of Representatives by a 33-5 vote today. Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, voted yes.

On Thursday, the House amended SB 4 to include the video conference option, known as “telehealth.” Backers of the House amendment said the telehealth provision would eliminate the burden of women having to make an extra trip to a clinic that provides abortions. Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted for the measure Thursday.

“This is a momentous occasion for this body,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who said that proponents have pushed for this legislation for 12 years. “Today we will give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, said women seeking an abortion must already be told about the procedure and its risks, the probable age, child-support laws and agencies that assist women who opt to proceed with their pregnancy. Adams said what SB 4 does is “clarify” this information cannot be relayed just through a telephone conversation.

“I wanted to thank all the pro-life members of this chamber, and the ones over in the House, who have been steadfast in their determination to care, not only for the well-being and health of women, but for the unborn,” said Adams, who introduced the legislation.

Senate Minority Whip Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, voted for the measure and thanked his colleagues who also supported SB 4.

“This clearly reflects the opinion of a number of us in my party … ,” Carroll said. “We are quite pleased this legislation has now passed both the House and Senate to protect the unborn in Kentucky.”

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said he voted against SB 4 because it is unnecessary. He then cited studies that found the majority of women receiving abortions are college educated.

“It is obvious these women understand, given their age and education, what it means to be pregnant,” he said. “To require these women to have a conference … to explain the obvious is just ridiculous. I see no reason, no purpose, for this legislation.”