Judge throws out Kentucky pro-life ultrasound law; governor vows appeal
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, September 29, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — An Obama-appointed federal judge struck down a Kentucky pro-life law allowing women to choose whether they wanted to see and/or hear their baby in the womb before aborting him or her.
Western District of Kentucky Judge David Hale decreed in a one-page ruling that the state’s new ultrasound law violates the Constitution.
The law, which took effect earlier this year, requires an abortionist to perform an ultrasound, which is the best way to determine true gestational age and provides vital information about the mother and baby.
The law also requires an abortionist to make the ultrasound image available to the mother, including the audio heartbeat. The mother may choose not to look, and may choose to have the volume off.
Attorney M. Stephen Pitt explained the purpose of the ultrasound is to help mothers who may later deeply regret aborting their child or who might not fully understand the miracle that is going on inside them. “Gosh, there’s a living human being inside me,” Pitt illustrated. “Maybe I don’t want to do this.”
Pitt assured hesitant lawmakers, “This law does not prohibit physicians from making any statement to the patients that they wish to make.”
Pro-life Governor Matt Bevin signed the bill into law.
Planned Parenthood expressed outrage at the informed consent for women considering abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued, representing the state’s last abortion business, EMW Women’s Surgical Center.
The ACLU argued that the law subjects women to “images, descriptions, and sounds, when the patient is in a particularly vulnerable and exposed position.” ACLU lawyer Alexa Kolbi-Molinas called the pro-life law a “demeaning and degrading invasion.”
Hale agreed, saying he felt the law “inflict(s) psychological harm on abortion patients” and causes them to “experience distress.” Hale wrote that the law sought to “overtly trumpet the anti-abortion preference of the legislature and is ideological in nature.”
Significantly, Hale determined that the pro-life law “impermissibly interferes with physicians’ First Amendment rights,” meaning the rights of abortionists as well as women considering abortion. According to Hale, the law infringes on the abortionist’s free speech by forcing abortionists to inform mothers of a government-mandated message.
In his ruling, Hale acknowledged that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar law in Texas but sided with a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision against such a law in North Carolina. He added that the law goes “well beyond” necessity in ensuring informed consent.
Governor Bevin has vowed to appeal Hale’s decision. His spokeswoman, Amanda Stamper, noted similar laws have been upheld as Constitutional and promised, “We … will appeal immediately to the 6th Circuit” in Cincinnati.
A second pro-life law enacted at the same time earlier this year by the Kentucky legislature prohibits “pain capable” abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation. That law has exceptions for the life and health of the mother. The ACLU has said they do not yet have plans to challenge that law.
Ultrasound requirements and other pro-life laws are on the books in over half the states of the union, according to the Planned Parenthood-founded Guttmacher Institute.
Kentucky is also embroiled in a trial over the licensing of the state’s last abortion business. EMW Women’s Surgical Center says it shouldn’t have to comply with statutes requiring the same safety standards as any other surgical facility.
The trial is over, but it's unknown when District Judge Greg Stivers will render his decision. In the meantime, the clinic has been granted a stay to continue to commit abortions.
“Essentially, all healthcare facilities in Kentucky are required to have such agreements, and it is telling that the abortion industry believes that it alone should be exempt,” Stamper said.