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 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 Senate Bill 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. Bevin’s office appealed the ruling before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 25. We are hopeful that the court will reverse the decision.
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. It establishes a definition and allows the use of a "newborn safety device" related to the anonymous surrendering of a newborn infant. 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 an infant less than 30 days old.
Raque-Adams also sponsored two new laws to pass the legislature in 2018: Senate Bill 250 establishes that all pregnant women be tested for hepatitis C and recommends testing for children born from a pregnant woman who has a positive hepatitis C test result. Senate Bill 133 states that no pregnant inmate shall be restrained during labor while being 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.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) represents the 17th Senate District.