Kentucky bill tightening regulations on abortion clinics expecte - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky bill tightening regulations on abortion clinics expected to sail through state Senate

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Senate’s Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection approved a bill, Thursday, that supporters say protects the health of women, and opponents say puts up barriers to abortion.

Senate Bill 212 places more regulations on abortion clinics and on the doctors who work there.

The bill would require freestanding abortion clinics, such as EMW and Planned Parenthood in Louisville, to obtain a certificate of need from the state, the same as hospitals and surgery centers.

It means the clinics would be held to stricter medical standards.

“Since abortion is generally an outpatient operation, clinics should be able to meet the same standards,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Albert Robinson (R-London.)

The clinics would also be required to have a doctor on staff with admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The legislature exempted abortion clinics from such requirements in 1998.

The Cabinet for Health and Family services now says that was a mistake.

“No one is here trying to eliminate the ability of any woman to go into a facility and seek these procedures. In fact, what we are trying to do here is to make certain these procedures are done in a safe environment,” said Steve Davis, chief of staff for the cabinet.

But opponents say that's a smokescreen, and this bill is not really about protecting women's health.

“This legislation is, I believe, another attempt to place a roadblock between Kentucky women and their right to receive any lawful medical procedure they choose,” said Derek Selznick, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project of the ACLU of Kentucky.

The bill passed easily, with Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville), the only Democrat in attendance, voting “no.”

“If the General Assembly does pass this, I predict, again, costly litigation and another ruling of this language's unconstitutionality,” said Clark.

But pro-life senators say abortion clinics should no longer get special treatment.

“I'd love to ban it altogether but, obviously, we're not going to be able to do that. At a minimum, I think we need to make it as safe as we possibly can,” Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) told WDRB News.

Passage is expected in the full Senate. But the bill's fate in the Democratic House may depend on the results of the March 8 special election, which could flip the balance of power.

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