Ky. House Passes Mandatory Counseling Bill

January 29, 2016 — The Kentucky House on Thursday voted 92-3 to pass an amended bill (SB 4) that would add requirements to a state law that requires women undergo mandatory counseling before receiving abortion care, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The measure now heads to the state Senate (Schreiner, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/28).


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. The state allows the mandatory counseling to be provided over the phone.

Earlier this month, the state Senate voted 32-5 to approve a version of SB 4 that would have required women to undergo the counseling in person (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/20). On Wednesday, conservative lawmakers in the state House held a procedural vote in an effort to force a vote on the Senate-passed version. However, the procedural vote failed (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/27).

According to the AP/Bee, the state House on Thursday passed an amended version of the bill that would require physicians or a physician designee to discuss the procedure's risks and alternatives with women in-person or via video chat at least 24 hours before the procedure. Physicians would still be permitted to authorize a licensed nurse, physician assistant or social worker to deliver the message on their behalf (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/28).


The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky's Reproductive Freedom Project condemned the House-approved bill, the Lexington Herald-Leaderreports. ACLU stated, "Senate Bill 4, despite language added in committee, remains an attempt by legislators to interfere with patients and the care they deserve from medical care providers, masquerading itself as a bill that helps women."

State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D), a registered nurse who voted against the bill, said she took issue with "a bunch of politicians dictating to women their health care decisions" (Cheves, Lexington Herald-Leader, 1/28).