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‘Born Alive’ Abortion Bill Passes Out Of Kentucky Committee

Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort

A bill that would require doctors to resuscitate infants born after failed abortion attempts has passed out of a committee in the Kentucky Senate.

The measure would make it a felony if doctors and other providers don’t “take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant.”

Incidents where abortions result in a live birth are extremely rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kentucky is one of several states that restricts abortion during or after the 20th week of pregnancy — around the point at which a fetus could be viable outside the womb.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Crofton, said that he proposed the law in reaction to states that allow abortions to take place later during pregnancy.

“Like many of you all, I was called here to serve in the senate because I wanted to stand for the unborn,” Westerfield said. “That’s one of the reasons that got me to running for office in the first place.”

Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature has passed several abortion laws in recent years, some of which have been temporarily blocked in federal courts.

Those bills were supported by then-Gov. Matt Bevin, who attempted to close the state’s only abortion provider and refused, despite a court order, to issue a license for Planned Parenthood to provide abortions in Louisville.

New Gov. Andy Beshear has said he supports the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that bans states from restricting access to abortion before the point of fetal viability.

Beshear’s administration also recently announced that Planned Parenthood would be allowed to apply for a license, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

Westerfield lamented the new administration’s stance on abortion.

“It’s a very big change in pace and the change in perspective on the value of life and the sanctity of life here in the bluegrass,” Westerfield said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky opposes Westerfield’s bill, calling it “unnecessary and dangerous.”

Kate Miller, advocacy director for the ACLU of Kentucky, said the measure would criminalize the work of dedicated doctors.

“Senate Bill 9 has nothing to do with how abortion care actually works and is based on false claims. Bills like these perpetuate myths and lies about abortion care, patients who receive this care, and the doctors who care for them,” Miller said in a statement.

There are at least two other new abortion restrictions that have been proposed during this year’s legislative session: a constitutional ban on the procedure and a bill that would ban public agencies from counseling or referring patients on abortion.

The “born alive” measure passed unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military and Public Protection Committee. It is now eligible to be heard by the full Senate.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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