Senate bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy

01/03/2017 04:57 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would ban abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy could be passed by the Kentucky state Senate by Friday.

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, would ban abortions in the commonwealth after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Eighteen states have the so called “20-week ban,” with Ohio the last to do so in December 2016.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade protects a woman’s right to have an abortion up until the fetus is viable outside the womb, around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Fewer than 1 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks, and most women who make the decision at that point have discovered a severe fetal anomaly or health issue that had not been detected earlier in the pregnancy.

Smith says the bill is necessary because evidence shows that fetuses experience pain and he feels that it’s his job as a legislator to protect the unborn.

“We’ve got really good evidence that shows in 20 weeks, that you’re seeing these children, these fetuses, trying to fight off stimulus where it’s going to be painful for them, so I just think it’s unacceptable for them in this day in age to do that kind of harm and hurt a fetus, to abort a fetus that we know that’s experiencing pain,” Smith said.

Smith says that there will be exemptions in the bill for victims of rape and incest as well as instances where the mother’s health is in danger.

Penalties would include fines and suspensions for the doctors who perform abortions after 20 weeks.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says the Senate will act quickly on the bill because it’s something the Republican led body has supported for a number of years.

“We are aware of the issues as it relates to this bill and are ready, willing, and able to proceed and move forward, and will move forward on this bill,” Stivers said.

Stivers says that while it might appear that the bill has been put on the “fast track” to passage, it’s actually legislation which has been thought about long and hard by him and his Senate colleagues over the years.

“I think for anybody to portray that there is a fast-track on this is disregarding our history,” Stivers said. “We can sit here and give you a series of bills from ’11 to ’15 that we passed in the first week. This bill will be voted on the Senate floor this week and there may be others as well.”

SB5 will be heard tomorrow by the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee on Wednesday at 4:15 in room 169 on the Capitol Annex.


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