Broad abortion proposal likely to spark contentious debate

Proposal would expand restrictions, mandates in several areas.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The controversial abortion proposal likely will mean contentious debates when the Kentucky Legislature convenes in January.

State Rep. Nancy Tate unveiled what she called the ‘Humanity Health Care Act’ during a legislative hearing Wednesday. The extensive bill would tighten controls on teen abortions, require more parental input and medical consultation and enforce a number of other provisions.

Opponents say the bill is Draconian and unnecessary because most of the protections already exist. Supporters say it would improve safety.

“All of us know that sometimes we make decisions when we’re young people that will affect us for the rest of our lives and so therefore I want to make sure that the medical providers gauge the maturity level of the individual who might want to make life-altering decisions,” said Tate, a Republican from Brandenburg.

Wednesday’s hearing also included testimony from Planned Parenthood and the Kentucky Right-to-Life Association.

And it also prompted response from other groups.

“The so-called ‘pro-life omnibus bill’ introduced in today’s meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection is a blatant attempt to push abortion care entirely out of reach under the guise of ‘public protection.’ The bills would increase the government’s involvement in family relationships and force pregnant Kentuckians, including children, to remain pregnant against their will. Additionally, the bills are rife with medical fallacies and outright untruths about abortion care,” said  ACLU of Policy Strategist Jackie McGranahan.

“The ACLU of Kentucky will continue fighting these types of extreme and dangerous proposals. Decisions about pregnancy are deeply personal and can be complicated. Conversations about reproductive healthcare need to stay where they belong: between pregnant people, their families, and their healthcare providers, not among radical politicians in the Kentucky General Assembly,” McGranahan added.

ORIGINAL STORY

FRANKFORT, Kt. (WTVQ) The Pro-Life Omnibus Bill, BR 343, sponsored by Representative Nancy Tate, R-Brandenburg, was brought to the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection for open discussion in Wednesday’s meeting. This measure addresses abortion on minors, medical/chemical abortions, fetal remains, public funding, complications, and the medical conscience of state medical providers.

“There are several people in the General Assembly who have participated in creating BR 343,” Rep. Tate said. “Statistically, three thousand abortions occur every year in Kentucky, but in 2020, that number increased by another thousand. It’s hard to absorb that children as young as thirteen are having abortions. In schools, our kids cannot even take aspirin without parental consent. It’s important to make sure we create legislation that protects our youngest citizens from making life-altering medical decisions on their own without parental consent.”

Though Kentucky currently requires parental involvement in abortions or a judicial bypass for minors who cannot tell their parent or guardian about their pregnancy, this bill further ensures minor safety by establishing a defined protocol for those hired to perform the abortion. The physician must have the parental identification on file and sign an affidavit stating parental consent is secured. The amendment also removes the ability of the physician to delegate the responsibility of getting parental consent to another agent. It also raises the standard of who meets the merits to acquire a judicial bypass. The court must consider the minor’s age, stability, credibility and demeanor, ability to assess responsibility and life-impacting consequences, the reason for needing an abortion, the possibility of influence and pressure, as well as confirming that the pregnancy is not a result of abuse by the parent or guardian.

This bill request denies patients access to medical and chemical abortions via mail and ensures that physicians administer all abortions. Physicians must have proper credentials and a signed contract with another physician who can handle arising complications. A physician must have valid consent 24 hours before the medical/chemical abortion except in the case of a medical emergency. Under this measure, providers are required to examine the patient in person, verify the pregnancy and RH factor, inform the patient that they might see the baby’s remains during the abortion, determine the gestational age and intrauterine location via ultrasound, schedule a follow-up appointment, and show reasonable efforts were made to schedule the appointment if the patient does not return. The Kentucky Board of Pharmacy will then create the Kentucky Abortion-Inducing Drug Certification Program. All distributors, manufacturers, and physicians must become certified before handling these types of drugs.

It also amends how to handle a baby’s body after an abortion and allows parents to decide how to bury their child. Within 24 hours, parents must know that they have the right to take responsibility or relinquish the responsibility of their child’s remains. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will create a form to track the process. Babies’ remains cannot be indulged in pathological waste and must not be disposed of for medical waste or sold in any way.

Should this bill request come to pass, regulations will be tightened on public agency funds and will make clear that all monies are public funds regardless of the source. The funds cannot go to any institution that performs, induces, refers for, or counsels for abortions. Regulations will require complications or death after an abortion to be reported by hospitals, healthcare facilities, and physicians. Bill request 343 prohibits discrimination against medical care providers who decline to perform procedures that violate their conscience, grants providers the right to not participate in or pay for services that violate their conscience, exempts providers from liability for exercising these rights, and establishes a civil cause of action for persons injured by violations of these provisions.

In agreement that all lives are precious, Attorney General Daniel Cameron addressed challenges Kentucky faces with human trafficking and highlighted work done by the legislature to protect our loved ones. Cameron reported that nationally there have been more than 63,000 reports of human trafficking since 2007. Kentucky ranked 9th in the country for new federal human tracking cases in 2019.

Proving that human trafficking is widely underreported, reports from the National Human Trafficking Hotline show that just over 700 reported cases were from Kentucky. The Cabinet of Health and Family Services reported 206 incidences of human trafficking involving minors in the 2020 reporting period.

In 2020, the legislature passed HB 2. This bill closed a loophole that allowed sex traffickers of adult victims to avoid registering on the sex offender registry and broadened the definition of “commercial sexual activity” from prostitution to “any sex act for which anything of value is given to, promised to, or received by any person.” This year, they passed HB 79, which ensures future employers are aware of an employee’s previous criminal behavior related to this industry and requires background checks for massage therapy licensure.

The attorney general noted that Operation United Front, a multistage human trafficking sting carried out by 29 agencies across Kentucky, has rescued 21 victims, including two minors, and yielded 46 arrests, a higher number than any other state. He also shared that more than 1,200 law enforcement officers, nearly 500 prosecutors, and 2,400 private-sector employees know how to look for signs of trafficking thanks to the efforts of the Kentucky Attorney General and Department of Criminal Justice Training.

The public service announcement called Your Eyes Save Lives, funded by the Department of Justice grant, encourages Kentuckians to be aware of the signs of human trafficking and to report suspected incidences. It uses ads to target the regions of Kentucky that reportedly have the largest number of child trafficking incidences. There are 39 ads in 22 counties, nearly 1,900 radio ads in 30 counties, and TV spots in 36 counties.

Representatives Tate and Riley plan to work in conjunction with Attorney General Cameron and Shared Hope International for “best in class” model language to support victims, strengthen prevention and prosecution of consumers who encourage and benefit from exploiting victims of human trafficking.

For full details of the meeting, please visit legislature.ky.gov or click here for the meeting materials. To watch the meeting online, visit the Legislative Research Commission YouTube page.

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