FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The Kentucky House has given final approval to legislation that would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be heard.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Matt Castlen, R-Owensboro, was presented on the House floor by Rep. Chris Fugate, R-Chavies.
“It recognizes that at the sound of a heartbeat, a child is living,” he told his colleagues. “A heartbeat is the first sign of life and is the last thing you hear when a person dies.”
Rep. Robert Goforth, R-East Bernstadt also spoke in favor of the measure. “I urge this body to pass this bill, it’s a good bill because it saves lives. A life is a gift from God to the world.”
One change to the bill was proposed by Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville. It would have allowed exceptions when two doctors determine that a fetus has abnormalities that would not be compatible with life outside the womb. The amendment was defeated on a voice vote.
Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills, asked Fugate if this was the same bill declared unconstitutional in Iowa and North Dakota, and vetoed by the governor of Ohio because he felt is was unconstitutional. Fugate answered: “This is not Ohio, this is Kentucky.”
Louisville Democrat Mary Lou Marzian opposed the bill. “This is another attempt to criminalize their doctors and insert ourselves into the doctor’s office.”
She noted the American Civil Liberties Union will file suit and win, costing taxpayers state hundreds and thousands of dollars. Almost on cue, minutes after passage, the ACLU announced it will take the state to court over the measure.
ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri told the Associated Press that such measures are "blatantly unconstitutional." She says the ACLU will ask a federal judge to strike it down.
“We’ve got a responsibility to taxpayers,” Harris said. “This is not just about coming and passing bills that male us feel good, so we can go home and tell our constituents, ‘Hey, we passed more abortion bills.’”
The legislation passed 71-19 and now heads to Gov. Matt Bevin, who is expected to sign it.
The measure is Senate Bill 9.