The Kentucky Senate voted last week to approve a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to complete state-mandate counseling in person at least 24 hours before an abortion can be performed.
Introduced by state Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville), SB 4 would update the state’s current counseling law, which requires a licensed nurse, physician, physician assistant, or social worker to tell a woman about risks of and alternatives to abortion—”information designed to discourage her from having an abortion,” as the Guttmacher Institute notes—at least 24 hours before receiving the abortion; it allows this information to be given by phone.
The new bill would require that this counseling be given in a face-to-face meeting with the patient.
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During the 2014 legislative session, Adams co-sponsored another bill, HB 575, that would have required physicians to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion and before the patient can give her “informed written consent.”
Anti-choice supporters of SB 4 claim that it would close a loophole in the law, while reproductive rights advocates say that it would add further hardships to women seeking abortion care in a state where abortion is highly restricted and has few abortion providers.
“The importance of a face-to-face medical consultation prior to consenting to a surgical procedure is a widely accepted medical standard of care—and Kentucky woman deserve no less,” Adams said defending the bill during the floor debate, as reported by the River City News.
“This bill is just another annual assault on women’s right to make a personal decision,” Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D-Louisville) said about why she voted against the bill. “It is demeaning to all women and particularly burdensome on working women and women in rural areas. Politics don’t belong in the exam room.”
The bill is unlikely to pass the house, where similar pieces of legislation have failed numerous times since 1998, House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
While Republicans hold a 26-11 advantage in the senate, Democrats hold a 54-46 advantage in the house. Kentucky is one of only nine states in the country in which Democrats and Republicans each control one of the legislative chambers.