Health Kentucky Politics

A Kentucky House committee has passed a sweeping anti-abortion bill that would make it harder for minors to get abortions, place stricter restrictions on those who provide medication-induced abortion and regulate disposal of fetal tissue. 

House Bill 3 was introduced in February by Republican Rep. Nancy Tate of Brandenburg. The measure would require abortion providers to attempt to reach both parents of a minor seeking the procedure. State law currently requires permission from one parent in most cases, although a minor can seek a judicial bypass for a procedure. The bill would also create higher standards for courts to approve a judicial bypass.

In explaining her vote against the bill, Louisville Democratic Representative Pamela Stevenson said those seeking more abortion restrictions are missing the mark. 

“The pro-life is really pro-birth because when the children are born, we have thousands of children in the foster care system that no one’s taking care of,” she said. “We have thousands of children that are being abused, and you’re not bringing forth bills to end that.”

The measure passed on a party-line vote out of the House Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee on Tuesday.

Supporters say it would make abortions safer by putting checks in place on how people access medication-induced abortions.

It calls for people to get examinations before receiving abortion medication, and for doctors to provide information on controversial “abortion reversals,” an unproven and potentially harmful procedure.

Republican Rep. Jim DuPlessis of Elizabethtown said he would support abortion in serious health cases like if a person had an ectopic pregnancy, but still voted in favor of the bill.

“What I think has been lost so often in this argument about abortion and abortion rights is the right of that human that is inside that mother,” he said.

The bill includes no exemptions for complicated pregnancies or cases or rape or incest.

Tamarra Wieder, the director for Planned Parenthood’s advocacy arm in Kentucky, said lawmakers are trying to restrict an already heavily-regulated procedure.

“This bill piles on a long list of abortion restrictions, none of which are based in medical best practice and patient safety,” Wieder said. 

“Years of medical research and studies have demonstrated that legal abortions are one of the safest medical procedures in the United States, with low mortality and complication rates for patients…medication abortion is a safe option that gives patients more control over their own health care.”

Tate, the sponsor of the bill, said in a previous statement she hopes to see an eventual end to abortion in Kentucky, but this bill isn’t about that. 

“Our goal is to ensure the procedure is the result of a fully informed, educated choice that takes into consideration the health and safety of both the unborn child and his or her mother,” she said.

The bill would also require the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy to establish a complaint portal to allow medical professionals and members of the public to report potential violations. The board would have to maintain and publish a list of pharmacies, manufacturers, distributors and physicians that deal with abortion medication.

Christopher Harlow, executive director of the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, said the bill would require a “massive, massive amount of resources” for the board to track and regulate abortion medication.

The bill will now be considered by the full House of Representatives. 

 

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.