LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) — Year after year, a bill related to informed consent prior to an abortion has languished in the Kentucky House.
Not this year. The proposal was approved by the Senate Feb. 1 in a 33-to-5 vote after the House added an amendment. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who took office in December, signed it into law Feb. 2.
Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and the state’s three other Catholic bishops, along with their public policy arm, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, were among those who welcomed the new law.
It amends Kentucky’s informed consent statute, which requires women seeking an abortion to be informed of its risks at least 24 hours prior to the procedure in a private setting with a medical professional. Previously, that requirement was interpreted as allowing the information to be shared in a recorded message.
The new law requires a face-to-face meeting with a health care provider. The House amendment makes it permissible to have this face-to-face meeting via real-time video conference.
Jason Hall, executive director of the state Catholic conference in Frankfort, said he was pleased with the outcome, but expressed some concern about the House amendment.
“We had kind of a rushed amendment in the House. There was no time to vet it,” Hall said during a phone interview Feb. 2 with The Record, Louisville’s archdiocesan newspaper. “We’re fine as long as these conversations occur in a live real-time conversation with a human being. You have to make sure the intent of the legislation will become a reality.”
Father Frank Pavone, national director of the New York-based Priests for Life organization, said in a statement that the vote to approve the measure was “so overwhelming (it) shows that there is much more that Kentuckians want their legislators to do to protect life.”
Kentucky’s bishops called the legislation historic and a “very important step.”
It “has the potential to provide great help to all who seek to reach out to a pregnant woman and her family in need,” they said in a Feb. 2 statement. “For many years, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky (CCK) has urged the passage of this common-sense step to ensure that women receive the information they need about these life decisions of the greatest magnitude. As CCK continues to seek to protect the child in the womb and to reach out with compassion and care to women who need assistance, this bill is a very important step.”
The bishops — Archbishop Kurtz, Covington Bishop Roger J. Foys, Owensboro Bishop William F. Medley and Lexington Bishop Ronald W. Gainer — also recommitted the church to its ministry of assisting women in crisis pregnancies.
“As we celebrate this legislation, which has been years in the making, we recommit ourselves and our resources to assisting pregnant women and their families. All four dioceses in Kentucky have respect-life ministries and social services that provide help, and the statewide ministry sponsored by the four Roman Catholic Bishops of Kentucky, Opportunities for Life, offers nonjudgmental and confidential support to women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and helps them to recognize the many opportunities and resources that exist for those who choose life.”
The bishops also gave thanks for the efforts of the Catholic conference staff, who have worked on this legislation for more than a decade. And they expressed gratitude for the citizens and legislators who advocated for the legislation.
“This is a great day for a culture of life in Kentucky,” the statement concluded.
It’s a great day for expectant mothers, too, according to Ed Harpring, coordinator of pro-life ministries for the Archdiocese of Louisville.
“As a sidewalk counselor, I see firsthand that many women enter into the abortion center as a panic reaction to an unplanned pregnancy, without even considering options,” he told The Record, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville. “Of course, a baby is lost and many of them suffer with a lifetime of regret.”
Harpring believes the legislation will help a mother slow down and make a more informed, careful decision.
“Many women — and statistics show this — realize that they can get through this unplanned pregnancy,” he said. “By simply giving themselves more time to calm down, the panic factor goes away, and they choose life.”
McAllister is editor of The Record, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103