Kentucky Lawmakers to Consider Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill

Oct 21, 2021

Credit J. Tyler Franklin

Republican state lawmakers plan to file an omnibus anti-abortion bill during the upcoming legislative session, making it harder for minors to get the procedure, creating more restrictions for abortion medication and setting requirements for disposing fetal tissue.

The bill will also include provision that would allow medical providers to refuse to perform procedures that “violate their conscience.”

Rep. Nancy Tate, a Republican from Brandenburg and a sponsor of the bill, said it will not include exceptions for women seeking abortions because of rape or incest.

“If there’s a human baby that’s created from that tragedy then the life of that human baby needs to be treated with dignity and respect as well,” Tate said.

The bill hasn’t been filed yet. Tate outlined the provisions in a legislative meeting on Wednesday.

The proposal would raise the bar for those under age 18 seeking abortions.

Kentucky already requires minors seeking abortions to get a parent or judge to sign off on the procedure. But under the bill, parents’ identification would be on record and doctors would have to sign an affidavit swearing they got parents’ consent, punishable with a Class D felony if they fail to do so.

For minors seeking a “judicial bypass,” a judge would have to have clear and convincing evidence “that the minor is mature, that the abortion is in the best interest of the minor, and that the pregnancy is not a result of abuse by the parent or guardian.”

Under the bill, courts wouldn’t be allowed to consider a minor’s financial situation as a reason to approve an abortion.

Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky director for Planned Parenthood, said conservative lawmakers are trying to make it impossible for people to get abortions in the state.

“This legislation is clearly intended to shame a person who has already made a private decision to have an abortion and create hurdles to physicians and clinics seeking to provide the necessary care,” Wieder said.

The bill would create more restrictions for people seeking medication-induced abortions—banning it from being mailed, making them get a blood test and ultrasound and requiring prescribing doctors to have contracts with physicians who can “handle complications if they arise.”

And it would create more requirements for disposing fetal tissue, requiring providers to cremate each aborted fetus individually and inform women seeking medication-induced abortions that “she might see the baby’s remains during the abortion.”

Tate, the bill’s sponsor, said the requirement would apply to miscarriages too.

“We recognize it as a human baby. It should not be treated as medical waste, it should not be thrown into an incinerator, it should be treated with dignity and therefore disposed of on an individual basis,” Tate said.

The bill will be considered in January when lawmakers return for the next regular legislative session.

Last year the legislature passed House Bill 91, a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would say “nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” Kentucky voters will weigh in on whether to approve the amendment during next year’s General Election in November.