In May, the Republic of Ireland disappointingly voted to repeal one of the more restrictive abortion bans in the world. While those results from our friends across the Atlantic were discouraging, I am encouraged by the pro-life environment we have created right here in the commonwealth.
Passing pro-life legislation has been a priority of the Senate Republican Caucus since long before my first term in the Senate, and I am inspired by the amount of new laws enacted to protect the rights of the unborn. With Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House, along with the leadership of Gov. Matt Bevin, we passed a number bills into law in recent years that will continue our efforts to protect life in its earliest stages.
This movement began in 2016, when the first bill Gov. Bevin signed into law was Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams. Known as the “informed consent” bill, SB 4 requires those seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face counseling session with a physician in-person or via live video 24 hours prior to the abortion procedure.
In 2017, we continued fighting for the voiceless. We passed SB 8, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, which removed state funding for Planned Parenthood. We also enacted a law sponsored by Sen. Brandon Smith that banned abortions after 20 weeks, because there is strong evidence that unborn children can feel pain at that stage of life.
Another significant bill passed into law in 2017 required a woman seeking abortion to view an ultrasound of her unborn child to see and hear the heartbeat of her child before making a final decision. Unfortunately, that law was struck down by the federal court, marking a sad day for this commonwealth. Gov. Bevin’s office appealed the ruling before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 25. We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will reverse the decision, and feel the future is still bright, as we continue our fight for life.
This year we passed House Bill 454, sponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner, to prohibit an abortion on a pregnant woman that will result in the bodily dismemberment, crushing, or human vivisection of the unborn child when the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 11 weeks or greater, except in the case of a medical emergency.
House Bill 167, sponsored by Rep. Myron Dossett, also passed in 2018. HB 167 establishes a definition and allows the use of a "newborn safety device" related to the anonymous surrendering of a newborn infant in Kentucky. This measure also establishes that a staffed police station, fire station, hospital, or participating place of worship may post a sign easily seen by the public that identifies itself as a safe and legal location to surrender a newborn infant less than 30 days old.
Sen. Raque-Adams also sponsored two new laws to pass the legislature in 2018, in SB 133 and SB 250. SB 250 establishes that all pregnant women be tested for hepatitis C and recommend testing for children born from a pregnant woman who has a positive hepatitis C test result. SB 133 states that no pregnant inmate shall be restrained during labor, transported to a medical facility or birthing center for delivery, or postpartum recovery, unless extraordinary circumstances exist.
Despite the unfortunate results of the Irish referendum in May, I am proud of the measures we have taken to protect the unborn in Kentucky. It is my pledge to make sure the commonwealth remains one of the strongest pro-life states in this great nation for as long as I serve.
Kentucky Sen. Damon Thayer-R, Georgetown, is the Senate Majority Leader and represents the 17th District, which includes Kenton County and parts of Grant and Scott counties.