FRANKFORT – Abortion clinic operators wanting to open new facilities in Kentucky would have to meet higher operating standards under a bill that passed the state Senate by a 32-5 vote on Wednesday.
Known as Senate Bill 212, the measure would require abortion clinics to have full operating suites with oxygen, crash carts and other medical supplies in addition to having a physician on staff with admitting privileges at a hospital within 50 miles of the clinic. The legislation seeks to “protect women’s health,” said Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, who sponsors the legislation along with Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville.
Robinson said it’s reasonable that abortion clinics should abide by the same safety protocols as surgery centers. Settings for less evasive surgical procedures, such as inserting ear tubes in a child, are required to meet certain standards and abortion clinics should do the same, he added.
“The requirement will not cause existing clinics to be shut down,” Robinson said. “If an existing clinic is properly licensed as of July 1, 2016, it will be grandfathered through the process.”
Sen. Reginald Thomas, R-Lexington, voted against the measure because he said it would raise barriers to a lawful medical procedure.
“This bill is our abortion bill of the week,” Thomas said in reference to of several abortion-related bills working their way through the General Assembly. “I would submit that if you are a young woman in Kentucky of child bearing years, it has been a very rough session for you.”
SB 212 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration. A similar measure in the House, known as House Bill 492, was introduced last month and has been assigned to the House Health & Welfare Committee.