Senate Panel OKs Bill Requiring More Information Before Abortions

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Women seeking abortions would be informed about fetal pain and use of anesthesia in prenatal surgeries under a bill headed to the Kentucky Senate.

The measure, which easily cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, would add to the information given to women before they undergo abortions.

The bill says the new material would inform women that by 20 weeks gestation the "unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain."

Women would be told there's evidence that fetuses by that stage seek to evade "certain stimuli" in a way that "would be interpreted to be a response to pain."

The material also would indicate that anesthesia is routinely given to fetuses at that developmental stage as part of prenatal surgeries.

"That's information that I think women ought to know," said Republican Sen. Jack Westwood of Crescent Springs, the bill's lead sponsor and an abortion opponent.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said he had reviewed material provided by a doctor indicating a fetus by 20 weeks gestation is not developed enough to experience pain.

Neal questioned whether the bill had been reviewed by medical experts to determine the accuracy of the material that would be presented to women.

"The evidence may be disputed by certain individuals, I don't know that," Westwood said. "But I can tell you there is evidence."

The Senate recently passed another bill requiring women to have in-person meetings with medical professionals at least 24 hours before having abortions.

That bill has not received a hearing in the House Health and Welfare Committee.
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The bill approved in committee is Senate Bill 80.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

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