FRANKFORT, February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Each chamber of the Kentucky legislature voted this week to pass two measures that would eventually ban most abortions, suggesting that each bill is likely to clear the other chamber and reach the governor’s desk.
On Thursday, the state Senate voted 31-6 to pass a bill requiring abortionists to check for a fetal heartbeat before abortion, the Associated Press reports. If a heartbeat is found, committing the abortion would be a Class D felony (punishable by up to five years in prison) except in cases of medical emergencies, which would also have to be documented.
“That child in her womb is a living human being,” Republican state Sen. Matt Castlen declared. “And all living human beings have a right to life.” Preborn babies’ hearts finish forming around seven or eight weeks into pregnancy, with heartbeats potentially detectable as early as five and a half weeks.
Before the vote a legislative committee heard April Lanham, a pregnant woman from Castlen’s district, allowed her 18-week baby’s heartbeat to be played for the lawmakers via an electronic monitor. “Every life matters,” she said, as she hoped the “powerful noise” would convey.
The next day, the Louisville Courier Journal reports that the state House voted 69-20 to pass another bill that criminalizes abortion for any reason except to prevent death or “serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ,” but would only take effect after Roe v. Wade is either overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court or overridden by a constitutional amendment.
“I'm honored to stand up and fight for these little ones who can't fight for themselves,” Republican state Rep. Stan Lee declared.
The two bills represent strategies to contend with Roe from opposite ends. Heartbeat bills, which have been introduced or passed in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas in recent months, ban abortion far earlier than the 1973 ruling allows, provoking a legal review pro-lifers hope will finally lead to Roe’s overturn. A judge blocked Iowa’s heartbeat law, and with multiple states passing them anyway the subject is expected to make its way through the federal courts sooner rather than later.
“Trigger laws” such as Friday’s bill, by contrast, won’t instigate legal battles because they won’t take effect until the controlling precedent changes, but are meant to prepare for the day such a change finally happens. Nine states currently have their unenforced, pre-Roe abortion bans still on the books, with another four states having enacted trigger laws like the Kentucky measure.
More liberal states, such as Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, are also preparing for a post-Roe America with bills to codify a state-level “fundamental right” to abortion, effectively throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
Kentucky’s Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, an outspoken pro-lifer, is expected to sign both bills into law.