Ky. Senate votes to ban sale of fetal tissue

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jan 27, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Kentucky Senate voted Wednesday to ban the sale of fetal body parts, the latest reaction to undercover Planned Parenthood videos in Texas that led to a grand jury indictment of two anti-abortion activists.

Republican state Sen. Max Wise, who wrote Kentucky's bill, criticized the grand jury's decision and said the bill would protect the state from the "cold-hearted trading of body parts for money." The bill makes it a felony to sell all or part of a fetus that was part of an induced abortion.

Two senators, both Democrats, voted against it. Sen. Perry Clark of Louisville noted the sale of fetal body parts is already prohibited by federal law and there is no evidence of it ever occurring anywhere.

"To do this is redundancy on top of redundancy. I'm going to vote 'no' on the measure even though I love all of the babies as much as anybody in this body," Clark said.

Other states have since introduced similar bills, and nearly two dozen states have laws that ban the sale of fetal tissue, according to Mary Balch, director of the department of state legislation for the National Right to Life.

The bill was inspired by undercover videos that alleged Planned Parenthood officials were selling fetal tissue for profit. A grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood officials this week and instead indicted the activists, accusing them of tampering with government records and a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

MORE: What both sides say about the indictments

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said the bill gives the state the opportunity to prosecute such crimes if they were to happen.

"It is against federal law to sell heroin. It is against federal law to commit a murder. It is against numerous laws at the federal level that we have corresponding and almost identical laws at the state level," Stivers said. "It then allows you to choose which form you plan to seek enforcement on."

The bill now goes to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, where anti-abortion bills have been gaining traction in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Republicans attempted to force a vote on a bill that would require a woman to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours before an abortion. The procedural vote failed, but Democratic leaders think some version of the bill would pass the chamber.


Reporter Bruce Schreiner contributed to this report.