Health & Medicine

Senate OKs abortion bill

For the second straight year, the state Senate approved a bill Monday that would require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and to review the results with the doctor.

The bill, which also would penalize doctors who fail to do so, sailed through the Senate on a 33-4 vote. The only opposition came from three Louisville Democrats and Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington.

Senate Bill 79 next faces an uncertain future in the House, where it died last year in the Judiciary Committee, which Stein, then a House member, chaired.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the bill would most likely be assigned to the House Health and Welfare Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville — one of the more liberal House members.

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Tori, R-Radcliff, who sponsored the bill, said requiring an ultrasound and face-to-face meeting with a doctor would ensure that a woman seeking an abortion is fully informed about her decision.

"This is a life or death decision for her," Tori said.

Stein, however, said such a requirement is "very insulting to women."

"I believe ... they are paternalistic, they are degrading," she said of such proposals.

She also took issue with a clause in the bill that would allow the woman to "avert her eyes" from the ultrasound, saying that the phrasing implies that viewing the picture could be traumatic for the woman.

The legislation is expected to be a major focus of Tuesday's Family Foundation of Kentucky rally at the Capitol at 11 a.m.

Also on Monday:

■ The Senate approved Senate Bill 42, which bans all-nude dancing at strip clubs and other "sexually-oriented businesses."

That legislation, offered for the third time by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, passed 35-2 after no discussion. Stein and Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, opposed the bill.

The measure now heads to the House, where Stumbo said it would likely be assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, headed up by first-year chairman Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville.

■ The Senate unanimously approved another of Denton's measures, Senate Bill 75, which would make it a Class D felony for prison workers, contractors or volunteers to have consensual or non-consensual sex with inmates.