January 13, 2015 — The Kentucky Senate on Friday voted 30-5 to pass legislation (SB 4) that would require women to undergo in-person mandatory counseling with a physician or physician designee at least 24 hours before an abortion, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports (Gerth, Louisville Courier-Journal, 1/9).
Under current state law, a licensed nurse, physician, physician assistant or social worker must tell women at least 24 hours prior to an abortion about the procedure's risks and abortion alternatives (River City News, 1/10). The state allows the mandatory counseling to be provided over the phone (Louisville Courier-Journal, 1/9).
The measure now proceeds to the state House (River City News, 1/10). However, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) said the chamber is not likely to approve the bill, given that it repeatedly has voted down similar measures in the past.
Abortion-rights supporters have argued that it would be particularly difficult for women who have to take time away from work or live in rural areas of Kentucky to meet the face-to-face mandatory counseling requirement (Louisville Courier-Journal, 1/9).
State Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D), who voted against the measure, said it "is just another annual assault on women's right to make a personal decision." She added that it "is demeaning to all women and particularly burdensome on working women and women in rural areas" (River City News, 1/10).
Meanwhile, opponents of abortion rights have said women would not need to travel far to undergo mandatory counseling, as physicians under the bill could declare a designee to provide the mandatory counseling in their area (Louisville Courier-Journal, 1/9).