Kentucky passes bill requiring ultrasound before abortion

Over the weekend, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill requiring women to have a fetal ultrasound first before having an abortion.

(REUTERS / Joshua Lott)Guadalupe Hernandez receives an ultrasound by nurse practitioner Gail Brown during a prenatal exam at the Maternity Outreach Mobile in Phoenix, Arizona October 8, 2009.

The Kentucky abortion bill is now awaiting the signature of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who previously expressed approval for the new legislation. The bill will become effective immediately once it is signed because of its emergency clause, The Associated Press reports.

Under the said bill, the ultrasound before an abortion must include the playing of the fetal heartbeat, but the mother has the option to have the volume turned down. Women are also not required to look at the monitor while the doctor or technician is performing the exam, but a detailed description of the unborn child must be included in the results.

Aside from the ultrasound bill, the Kentucky legislature also passed a separate bill banning abortions after 20 weeks' age of gestation. Both bills were criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, which views them as restrictions to women's reproductive rights, the Huffington Post relays.

"The passage today of 20 week abortion ban, Senate Bill 5 and mandated ultrasound bill, House Bill 2, were the culmination of a week where many members of the General Assembly worked at breakneck speed to severely restrict women's reproductive rights," ACLU-KY advocacy director Kate Miller said in a statement.

In addition, Miller said the lawmakers supporting Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 2 merely want to ban abortion and not improve women's health. She said the measures are just intrusions into people's personal decisions.

"In floor speech after floor speech Saturday, lawmakers discussed the true intention of their support of the bills, which was simply banning abortion. Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 2 are not about women's health. They represent nothing more than political intrusion in the most personal, private decisions," Miller added.

In response to the passing of the 20-week abortion ban, pro-choice demonstrators staged a protest at the state capitol building to protest the measure. The protesters contend that the two abortion bills passed the legislature in a remarkably quick fashion which did not allow the public and the press to obtain copies before the vote.

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