Late-term abortions now illegal in Kentucky; ultrasounds required

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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Matt Bevin quietly signed bills into law Saturday evening that ban late-term abortions and require women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds.

Both laws took effect as soon as Bevin's signature was applied.

The late-term abortion law bans the procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger. Physicians who violate the measure could have their medical licenses revoked and could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison.

Under the ultrasound law, physicians are required to display the images so women can see, though they have the option to avert their eyes if they don’t want to see them. Physicians face a $100,000 fine for a first offense and a $250,000 fine for subsequent offenses.

Both the new laws were heralded by evangelicals.

“Kentucky Baptists have been working, hoping, and praying for this day for a very long time,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention, the state’s largest religious organization.

The abortion laws, along with several others, passed in the first week of the 2017 legislative session. All of them also went into effective immediately.

Workers can no longer be forced to join labor unions or pay dues to keep their jobs under one of those new laws. Proponents said the new law will help Kentucky create jobs by attracting new businesses.

“With the passage of these critical bills, Kentucky sends a strong message to job creators that we are very serious about attracting and retaining the best jobs in the country,” House Speaker Jeff Hoover said last week. "For years, workers in Kentucky have been hampered with job and wage killing laws, and we’ve fallen behind our neighboring states. We owe it to every hard-working Kentuckian to do everything within our means to make sure they have to access to great jobs to support themselves and their families, and that’s what these bills will do.”

Another new law repeals a requirement that employees be paid a higher "prevailing wage" on government construction projects, including school buildings. Critics said the prevailing wage law unnecessarily drove up the cost of construction projects.

And yet another creates a new 10-member University of Louisville Board of Trustees who would be selected by the governor from a list of potentials supplied by the Council on Postsecondary Education. Members would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

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