FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) - Kentucky lawmakers may now have the steam to enact anti-abortion legislation that requires an in-person consultation with the doctor one day before the procedure.
Kentucky law already requires pre-abortion consultations but they can occur over the phone.
The Republican-backed Senate Bill 4 stipulates that the meeting must take place face-to-face with a physician or physician designee 24 hours before the procedure.
Currently, the consultation can be done over the phone.
Having zipped through the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee on Jan. 13, with only one vote against, the bill is expected to easily pass through the state Senate where Republicans hold a strong majority.
Women's rights groups contend that requiring woman an extra physician visit could be problematic in a state with just two facilities that perform abortions, one in Louisville and one in Lexington.
The particulars of the this bill are nothing new to state lawmakers, however, as similar bills have passed through the Senate previously, only to be blocked in the state's House of Representatives where Democrats hold the majority.
Shaking up the Kentucky's political landscape this time around, voters elected Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in November. A staunch opponent against abortions, Bevin is the state's second Republican governor in the last four decades.
Since Bevin's took office, two House Democrats have also switched parties, and two more have vacated their seats for appointments from Bevin.
This leaves the Democrats' edge at a weaker 50-46 seat majority, and gives House Republicans hope for their bill.
The four vacant seats will be decided March 8, during a special election.
Senate Republican Julie Raque Adams from Louisville, who sponsored the bill, believes that law change would upgrade women's health care in the state.
"This is a solid bill that does much to move not only the health care but the wellness of women out of the restrictive column and into the priority status which we so richly deserve," Adams said, as reported by the Lexington Herald Leader.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and its Reproductive Freedom Project have long been opponents of bills like SB4. They condemn the bill as an attempt to block women from obtaining a legally allowed procedure.
SB4 is "designed to shame a woman out of her decision to end a pregnancy by creating needless obstacles to safe and legal abortion services in a state where access is already very limited," the ACLU said in statement.
Abortion laws are under additional fire in the state, as another bill, Senate Bill 7 seeks to defund groups such as Planned Parenthood, by preventing state funds from going towards facilities that perform abortions.
"Public funds shall not be used for the purpose of obtaining an abortion or paying for the performance of an abortion," the bill states. "Public medical facilities may be used for the purpose of conducting research into or the performance of in-vitro fertilization as long as such procedures do not result in the intentional destruction of a human embryo."
Both bills will be decided on later this year.
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