Health Kentucky Politics

A sweeping bill that could restrict abortion medication and make it harder for minors to terminate a pregnancy has moved closer to the finish line, after passing out of a Senate committee Wednesday. 

The Kentucky Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted 8-2 Wednesday to pass Kentucky House Bill 3, a more than 60-page measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Nancy Tate of Brandenburg. 

The bill would require abortion providers to get the consent of a minor seeking an abortion as well as one parent with joint custody or who lives with them. It also requires that parent to attempt to reach the second parent, at least 48 hours before an abortion. 

Notice won’t be required for a parent with a domestic violence order or a protective order, or one who has been convicted of a crime against a minor. 

The bill also requires providers to examine patients before giving medication abortions. 

The bill does not provide exceptions for incest or rape. 

Tate has said throughout the process that this particular bill is not meant to end abortion in the state.

“Rather the intent of House Bill 3 is to ensure that while abortions are legal in Kentucky, we want them to be as safe as possible,” she said.”

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services will be tasked with overseeing the certification of providers of abortion medicine, and reporting violations. 

But opponents say the requirements could make abortion inaccessible. 

The measure also requires providers to inform patients about controversial and unproven medication abortion “reversals” and regulates disposal of fetal remains. 

The bill passed the House earlier this month and is expected to go to the full Senate soon. If signed into law, an emergency clause would mean it goes into effect immediately.

The Senate also passed last week a measure to ban abortions after 15 weeks, mirroring a blocked Mississippi law held up in the Supreme Court. It’s been referred to a House committee. 

Democratic Sen. Karen Berg of Louisville has been an outspoken critic of the bills, calling the omnibus bill an attempt to legislate morality. 

“Many of the people in this room believe that it’s morally wrong to terminate a pregnancy,” she said during the committee hearing Wednesday. “And what I think is morally wrong is for the government to come in and tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her own reproduction.”

Update: This article has been updated to reflect changes made during the committee hearing, including the fact that it now requires a parent, not the provider, to attempt to notify the other parent. It also makes the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services responsible for certifying providers of abortion medication and maintaining reported violations instead of the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.