Republican state senators in Kentucky have advanced a bill that would force women seeking an abortion to first have an ultrasound.
By a vote of 11 to 1, the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee approved Senate Bill 152, which proponents say is necessary for women to have “informed consent” before going through with an abortion, according to the Courier-Journal.
While the bill would not require the patient to view the ultrasound, it would require the doctor to describe the fetus to the woman. Under the bill, the description “shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.”
Doctors who violated the proposed law would be fined $100,00 for their first offense, and $250,000 for each additional offense.
During a committee meeting last week, obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Sarah Wallett told state senators that the bill would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.
“It is my job to provide her medically-accurate, appropriate and evidence-based information about her decision and to respect her decision and her personal values within the context of our relationship as doctor and patient,” Wallett explained.
Bill sponsor state Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R) insisted that the measure was about the health of the fetus, not politics.
“As important as the doctor-patient relationship is, and it is, it’s not as important as a life,” Westerfield remarked. “This is about giving that mother all the opportunities she can have to make the decision. This isn’t about shaming.”
However, Derek Selznick of American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky pointed out that similar law in North Carolina had been struck down.
“This is not informed consent, this is about politicians trying to bully, shame and humiliate women who have already made their personal and often heart-wrenching decision to end their pregnancy,” Selznick noted.
RH Reality Check’s Jenn Stanley observed that the bill was expected to be passed by the full Senate, but it’s fate would be determined by the state House, where similar bills have been defeated by Democrats in the past. Ultimately, four special elections in March could decide if Democrats are able to retain control of the House and defeat Senate Bill 152.