Omnibus anti-abortion measure filed, draws fire from groups

Measure covers everything from parental consent to public funding

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – An omnibus pro-life bill that addresses abortion on minors, medical/chemical abortions, dignified disposal of fetal remains, public funding, and complications, among other things was filed Thursday by state Rep. Nancy Tate, a Republican from Brandenburg.

Not surprisingly, the legislation drew criticism from abortion rights groups.

“I’ve collaborated with my colleagues in the General Assembly as well as outside organizations and the end result is a strong and compassionate approach to ensuring that our laws properly reflect the pro-life values held by so many Kentuckians,” said Tate, speaking of HB 3, the bill number given to her legislation. “The statistics are staggering. In most years, an average of 3,000 abortions are performed in Kentucky, with more than 4,000 procedures occurring in 2020 and only one was attributed as necessary to save the mother’s life. One. Not one percent, one. As a parent and grandparent, it’s hard to absorb the fact that children as young as 13 are undergoing an abortion with minimal consideration for their long-term mental or physical health. We owe it to these children to ensure their best interests are considered when these life-altering medical decisions are made.”

Kentucky currently requires parental involvement in abortions. However, a loophole allows for judicial bypass, a process that involves a court order that allows a minor access to an abortion without the notification or consent of her parents. HB 3 addresses the loophole by establishing a clearly defined protocol. Under the provisions of HB 3, attempts must be made to contact both parents, whereas existing state law only requires the approval of one legal guardian.

The amendment also prevents physicians from delegating the responsibility of acquiring parental consent to another individual.

“This is a serious medical procedure and a physician should be directly involved to ensure that everyone involved has the information they need to make the best decision possible,” Tate added.

HB 3 also raises the standard to acquire a judicial bypass. Under the terms of Tate’s bill, if one of the patient’s legal guardians is unable to sign off, the physician can bypass their consent with judicial concurrence.

The court must consider the minor’s age, stability, credibility, demeanor, ability to assess responsibility for life-impacting consequences, the reason for needing an abortion, and the possibility of influence and pressure, as well as confirming the pregnancy is not a result of abuse by the parent or guardian. The language, in part- is an effort to address concerns  raised by child-welfare and abortion advocates.

In addition, Tate’s proposal ensures parents have a say in how the remains of an aborted child are handled.  HB 3 would require that parents receive notice of their right to take responsibility or relinquish their child’s remains within 24 hours of the procedure. After the procedure, babies’ remains cannot be treated as pathological waste, disposed of as medical waste, or sold.

The measure also calls for the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy to create the Kentucky Abortion-Inducing Drug Certification Program, which would focus on ensuring that physicians who prescribe medication to induce a chemical abortion have proper credentials and a signed contract with another physician who can handle any medical complications that arise. A physician must have valid consent 24 hours before the medical/chemical abortion except in the case of a medical emergency. If a patient chooses a chemical abortion, the physician must inform her about the reversal pill. The abortion reversal pill can be taken after the patient has taken the first of the two pills.

Under this measure, before inducing a chemical abortion, providers are required to examine the patient in person, verify the pregnancy and RH factor, inform the patient that she 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. Physicians who do not inform or examine the patient prior to the abortion could be subject to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The bill also includes language that essentially creates a state version of the Hyde Amendment and would prevent state dollars or federal bypass funds from being directly or indirectly used to fund abortions. Regulations will require complications or death after an abortion to be reported by healthcare facilities and physicians.

“This bill isn’t about ending abortion. While I support that wholeheartedly and believe my fellow Kentuckians do as well, that debate is for another time and place. Until that day comes, our goal is to ensure the procedure is the result of a fully informed, educated choice that takes into consideration the health and safety of both the unborn child and his or her mother,” Tate added. “I’m looking forward to presenting this measure in committee and building on this legislature’s legacy as the most pro-life in our state’s history.”

Planned Parenthood strongly condemned HB 3, calling it a “massive package of anti-abortion policies based on junk science and misinformation that endanger the health of pregnant people.”

Kentucky’s anti-abortion lawmakers have launched their latest attempt to insert politics into the exam room with House Bill 3, an omnibus package of anti-abortion policies that fly in the face of science. HB 3 combines some of anti-abortion extremists’ most egregious attacks on reproductive rights into a laundry list of onerous and irresponsible requirements for abortion providers and patients, Planned Parenthood said. “The sole impact of these policies will be to make it difficult, and often impossible, for people to access essential, time-sensitive care.”

“As other states push to increase access to essential services by removing obstacles to care, Kentucky legislators are working around the clock to chip away at a person’s right to make informed medical decisions for themselves and their families. In addition to restricting access to safe and effective medication abortion, this bill would further limit telemedicine; make it even more difficult for young people to access abortion care, effectively putting abortion out of reach for some young people; and require providers lie to patients about so-called ‘abortion reversal,’ an experimental, unproven procedure with no basis in science,” the agency continued

“Kentucky residents deserve lawmakers who fight to protect and strengthen their health care system, not undermine it with junk science and medical misinformation,” said Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky State Director for PPAA. “HB 3 is not only unconstitutional, but irresponsible and out of step with what Kentuckians want: access to medically accurate information and essential medical procedures like abortion.”

Planned Parenthood said its key concerns  include:

  • Restricting access to safe, effective medication abortion, ignoring current medical and scientific guidance;

  • Publishing the names of all physicians that provide medication abortion and creating a state-run “complaint portal” that would allow any member of the public to submit anonymous complaints about abortion providers, opening them up to increased harassment from anti-abortion extremists;

  • Creating a redundant and onerous FDA-like certification program under the state Board of Pharmacy targeting medication abortion drugs that would require drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies to register and certify with the state. This would be an unprecedented oversight of a drug regimen with a proven safety record.

  • Undermining the judicial bypass process for minors who are seeking an abortion by adding a waiting period for some youth and creating administrative requirements that will be impossible for some youth to fulfill;

  • Prohibiting health care facilities from safely and respectfully handling fetal remains in accordance with accepted medical standards and practice;

  • Requiring the state to promote the fraudulent idea that medication abortion can be reversed; and

  • Expanding existing restrictions that prohibit public funding from being given to any institution that performs, refers for, or counsels about abortions.

In combination, these policies represent an egregious assault on abortion care, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Kentuckians’ constitutional right to safe, legal abortion.

“Year after year, Kentuckians watch politicians debate our right to access medically necessary and time-sensitive health care, and create laws for our bodies based not on science, but on a need for control,” Wieder continued. “Health care champions in every elected office have a responsibility to stand up to misinformation, fearmongering, and inflammatory rhetoric, not promote it. Abortion is still safe and legal in Kentucky, and we will continue to do everything in our power to keep it that way.”

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