Kentucky Republican Plans To Introduce ‘Pro-life Omnibus Bill,’ Tightening State’s Restrictions Even Further

Oct 20, 2021 at 4:04 pm
Operation Save America brought a large group of children to the protest at EMW Women's Clinic in 2017.
Operation Save America brought a large group of children to the protest at EMW Women's Clinic in 2017.

A Kentucky Republican plans to introduce an “pro-life omnibus bill,” tightening the state’s abortion restrictions, including making it more difficult for minors to obtain abortions without parental consent. 

“Let’s be clear, this is a coordinated effort by anti-abortion extremists who want to make all abortions illegal and unattainable,” said Tamarra Wieder, the state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates of Kentucky, who testified at a Kentucky legislature interim committee meeting on Wednesday in opposition of the proposed bill. 

Advocates for the bill, including representatives from Susan B. Anthony List and Kentucky Right to Life, framed it as “good health care.”

Rep. Nancy Tate, R-Brandenburg, has not pre-filed the bill yet, but, at the committee meeting, she said it addresses parental consent, medication abortions and the disposal of fetal remains. Tate did not mention including any abortion restrictions like the law recently passed in Texas.

Parental Consent

Minors in Kentucky are already required to obtain parental consent to undergo an abortion procedure. But, they can get an exception if they go through a process called “judicial bypass.” The proposed bill would “raise the standard of who meets the merits to obtain judicial bypass,” according to Tate. Wieder said this would make Kentucky’s parental consent laws more restrictive than most around the country.

Under the new bill, to grant minors judicial bypass, the court would have to find “clear and convincing evidence” that the applicant is mature and the abortion is in their best interest among other things. Financial reasons could not be used as evidence.

If a physician were to perform an abortion on a minor without proper consent, they could be subject to disciplinary action by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. And, doctors could face criminal charges, including a Class D felony if they knew the minor didn’t have consent. 

Medication Abortion

Tate expressed concern about the increased prevalence of abortions performed with medication (as opposed to surgical abortions).

The state already requires patients to meet with a physician before receiving medication for an abortion, according to Wieder. But, Tate’s bill would go farther, forcing clinics providing medication for abortions to meet more stringent requirements. One of those would be an obligation to inform patients about a controversial abortion pill reversal practice, which critics say doesn’t work.

Tate’s bill would also create a Kentucky Abortion-Inducing Drug Certification Program that all distributors, manufacturers and physicians would have to sign up for. The Program would perform annual audits and suspend certification if non-compliance was discovered. Registered physicians would have to report information about abortions administered and couldn’t give the drugs to patients “with certain risks.”

There would be penalties for not following the new rules: $5 million for distributors and manufacturers and $250,000 for physicians. 

A representative with Susan B. Anthony List who testified at the meeting said that medication abortions make “every bathroom” an “abortion clinic” and she warned that medication providers are targeting young women via internet ads. 

But, Weider with the Planned Parenthood Alliance disputed the claims of bill supporters.

“A lot of what we heard today is fear based and mongering, not based on medical practice that happens in our Commonwealth,” she said.

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