Senate Approves Abortion Measure

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Physicians would be required to perform
ultrasounds and present the images to pregnant women before
providing abortions under legislation that steamrolled through the
state Senate on Thursday.
State Rep. Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Spring, said ultrasound
technology produces images that women should see before they decide
to terminate their pregnancies.
"The idea is that what is inside this woman is not a mass of
tissue, but, in fact, is a live baby," said Westwood, sponsor of
the legislation that has drawn vocal opposition from
abortion-rights advocates.
The legislation gives women the option not to look at the
ultrasound images if they don't want to.
Among other provisions, the measure would require doctors to
consult with women 24 hours before terminating their pregnancies
and would adopt a federal ban on the late-term procedures that
opponents refer to as partial birth abortions.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the legislation Thursday
morning and sent it to the GOP-controlled Senate floor where it
passed hours later 32-4. The measure now goes to the House where
Democratic lawmakers said they will consider it.
House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said he can't
predict how the bill will fare.
"It will go through the normal process, and we'll see," he
said. "I haven't studied it or read it, and I just don't know."
Kathy Rutledge, a member of the anti-abortion group Operation
Outcry, told lawmakers that she has been haunted for three decades
by her decision to terminate a pregnancy in 1977. She said if she
had seen an ultrasound image, she never would have done it.
"A picture can be worth a thousand words," Rutledge told
lawmakers.
However, Kate Cunningham, a volunteer advocate for the
Reproductive Freedom Project in Louisville, said the bill is "an
attempt to micromanage the practice of medicine." She said the
24-hour wait required in the bill creates a hardship on women from
rural parts of the state who have to drive long distances to get to
one of Kentucky's three abortion clinics in Lexington and
Louisville.
Amy Irvin, a Louisville graduate student, made an emotional plea
for lawmakers to abandon the measure, saying women who have been
the victims of rape would be traumatized a second time if the
measure becomes law.
"Physicians, not politicians, should decide what is best for
women," Irvin said.
State Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, said he believes the bill
would make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions in
Kentucky.
"What do we do after the child is born?" he asked. "Who is
going to take care of it if the mother doesn't want it."
Senators voting against the measure were Denise Harper Angel,
D-Louisville; Gerald Neal, D-Louisville; Ernesto Scorsone,
D-Lexington; and Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville.
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The legislation is Senate Bill 40.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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