National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Ky. Senate Approves Bill Requiring In-Person Mandatory Counseling

The Kentucky Senate on Tuesday voted 32-5 to approve a bill (SB 4) that would require women to undergo in-person mandatory counseling with a physician or physician designee at least 24 hours before an abortion, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

The measure, proposed by state Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R), now proceeds to the state House for consideration (Beam, AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 1/19).

Background

Under current state law, a licensed nurse, physician, physician assistant or social worker must tell women at least 24 hours prior to an abortion about the procedure's risks and abortion alternatives. The state allows the mandatory counseling to be provided by phone.

Last week, the state Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee voted 9-1 to advance SB 4 to the Senate floor.

In testimony, Derek Selznick, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, criticized the measure. He noted that there only are two clinics in the state, in Louisville and Lexington, and that the bill would unnecessarily burden women to require them to make two trips to a clinic, potentially increasing expenses and subjecting women to antiabortion-rights protesters outside of the Louisville clinic. He also said the measure failed to account for advances in telemedicine.

Bill Prospects

In recent years, the measure has been consistently approved by the state Senate but rejected by the state House. For example, the Kentucky Senate in January 2015 voted 30-5 to pass a similar measure (SB 4), but it was defeated in the state House Health & Welfare Committee two months later (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/14).

However, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) said the bill might be more likely to pass this year. According to the Herald-Leader, liberal state lawmakers do not seem to oppose the measure as strongly as they have in prior years (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 1/19).