Jan 26, 2012 2:31 PM
FRANKFORT (AP) - A Senate committee has approved two bills that would place more restrictions on women seeking abortions.
Republican Sen. Jack Westwood of Erlanger, who is chairman of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, said he hopes the bills will reduce the number of abortions in Kentucky.
One bill would require women to have ultrasounds prior to abortion. The other would clarify existing law by requiring women to have a face-to-face consultation with a physician, licensed nurse, physician's assistant or physician-delegated social worker prior to having an abortion.
Sen. Perry Clark, a Louisville Democrat, said that similar proposals have been included in a single bill in years past, but the sponsors are politicizing the issue by dividing them into separate measures this year.
"The potential for getting it passed in the House is stronger if they are bifurcated," explained Westwood, who is a cosponsor of both.
Sen. Kathy Stein, a Lexington Democrat, said she believes the measures are not intended to help women who find themselves in a difficult situation.
"I fear they're both being used as road blocks," she said.
Westwood admitted that he wanted to "eliminate as many abortions as possible."
"To me, it's not a political issue, it's a moral issue," Westwood said.
Sen. Mike Wilson, a Bowling Green Republican, said that "informed consent" is already the law, but it is being misinterpreted to allow women to listen to a pre-recorded message by phone instead of talking to a doctor.
That prevents many women from getting printed materials 24 hours before an abortion that show the development of a fetus and provide information about resources available to them, he said.
Wilson's bill would clarify the law by defining "individual private setting" as being in the same room with the doctor or other medical provider for counseling.
The informed consent bill passed the legislature in 1998.
The ultrasound bill has also been proposed for several years, and has passed in the Republican-led Senate, but has always failed in the Democrat-led House.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)