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House GOP trying to give anti-abortion bill new life

FRANKFORT — House Republicans are trying to advance an anti-abortion bill from a House committee using a rarely successful parliamentary procedure.

The minority caucus wants the full House to vote on the measure even though it died in the House Health and Welfare Committee on a 7-7 vote in February.

On Wednesday, Rep Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, filed a petition for discharge of Senate Bill 38, which would require a doctor to present a woman with the results of an ultrasound before performing an abortion.

Fischer and 25 other Republican House members signed the petition.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, will rule Thursday on whether the petition should get a vote.

Stumbo would not say Wednesday how he would rule, but he noted that no discharge petition has been granted during his more than 20-year career in the legislature.

If Stumbo were to rule the petition in order, Fischer and backers of Senate Bill 38 would need 51 votes to bring it to the House floor for a vote. House Republicans tried a similar ploy on a previous version of the bill two years ago, but they didn't have 51 votes.

There are 35 Republicans in the House. Fischer said he didn't need any signatures of House Democrats for the petition but acknowledged he would need some of the chamber's 65 Democrats to bring the measure to the floor for a vote.

"I'm going to start talking to some today," Fischer said Wednesday.

The ultrasound bill has passed the Republican-controlled Senate for the past several years but has not made it to the Democratic-controlled House floor for a vote.

Rep. David Floyd, R-Bards town, predicted Wednesday that Senate Bill 38 would pass the Democratic-controlled chamber if it makes it to the House floor.

The petition is just the latest in a series of maneuvers by House Republicans to force a vote on the measure. Fischer, Floyd and Rep. Tim Moore of Elizabethtown have filed the abortion measure as an amendment to several pieces of House legislation during the past two weeks.

Bills that now have the abortion amendment filed with them include proposals to expand access to children's health care and improve child-support collections.

In an attempt to bypass the abortion amendments, Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, had filed the contents of three jeopardized bills as an amendment to Senate Bill 106.

But on Wednesday, Floyd filed the abortion amendment alongside Burch's amendments on SB 106.

"It's dead," Burch said of SB 106, which originally was a measure that dealt with Medicaid coverage of genetic disorders sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville.

Denton said Wednesday that Floyd's amendment essentially killed her bill and that she was looking for other related bills to which the Medicaid measure could be added.

Floyd said neither he nor his Republican counterparts are trying to kill any bills by adding the abortion amendment. The House could vote on those bills as amended, he said.

"Any bill can be resurrected," Floyd said. "There are many, many ways to get that piece of legislation through."

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