- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The state has ordered a Planned Parenthood facility to halt abortions, saying the Louisville clinic needs an agreement with a hospital that could take in women who have complications from a procedure.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said in a statement that the facility was “openly and knowingly operating an unlicensed abortion facility in clear violation of the law.”

Kentucky has abortion clinics in Louisville and Lexington, the state’s two largest cities. State officials said in the letter to Planned Parenthood that its Nov. 19 application to begin performing abortions at its Louisville facility is deficient.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky said in a letter to health officials Friday afternoon that it would work to correct the problems so it can resume services at the Louisville center. The letter to the state Cabinet for Family and Health Services said the facility received assurances from state officials in early December - before Bevin took office - that it could begin providing abortions.

The action by the state comes as lawmakers will potentially vote next week the state’s informed consent law, taking up a version allowing real-time video consultations between doctors and women at least 24 hours before an abortion.

Since 1998, Kentucky law has required women meet with a doctor before an abortion. But the bill’s supporters say some doctors have circumvented that requirement by having patients listen to a recorded message on the phone with no interaction with the doctor.

The measure is scheduled for Senate action on Monday, when the chamber will decide whether to accept House changes, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said Friday.

Thayer said Monday’s session “promises to be momentous,” and many senators stood and applauded when he announced plans for the floor vote.

Senate President Robert Stivers later told reporters he thinks the Senate will accept the House changes.

For years, the GOP-run Senate has passed abortion-related bills that died in the Democratic-led House.

The measure could be the first passed since Bevin, an abortion opponent, took office.

“I would like it to be the first bill that the governor signs,” said Thayer, R-Georgetown.

The morning after the House voted 92-3 to pass the bill, Republican senators praised the action, but said they still needed to review the new language.

Republican Sen. Ralph Alvarado of Winchester, a doctor, said any video conferencing would need to ensure “a back and forth” between doctors and patients so women could ask questions ahead of a procedure.

“My concern is that it isn’t just a video,” he said. “Because what we’re having right now is women listening to a recording. We don’t want this to be a recording. We want it to be interactive.”

A leading critic of the bill, Derek Selznick with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, has said the video option would allow patients easier and more convenient access to counseling. But it didn’t fix the bill’s intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship, he said.

The House version allows a doctor to designate a licensed nurse, physician assistant or social worker to represent him or her at the in-person or video consultations.

The Senate supports allowing those others to represent a doctor at in-person meetings.

The House vote came at a time when Democrats are fighting to maintain their control of the chamber. Democrats are clinging to a 50-46 House majority, with four special elections looming in March.

Stivers said the House action on the informed consent bill was the result of a “confluence of political pressures” forcing House Democratic leaders “to change their method of business” and the bills they consider.

Asked if other abortion bills might ultimately pass the House this year, Stivers said: “If that one made it through, there’s a real likelihood that others will make it through.”


The legislation is Senate Bill 4.

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