ACLU Sues to Stop Pro-Life Law Allowing Women to See Ultrasound Before Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 10, 2017   |   2:11PM   |   Frankfort, Kentucky

Abortion activists in Kentucky quickly filed a lawsuit Monday to challenge a new law requiring that women be given an ultrasound and information about their unborn child prior to an abortion.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, an abortion clinic in Louisville, on Monday not long after Gov. Matt Bevin signed the bill into law.

The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act requires medical staff to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion and allow the woman to see it if she chooses. It also requires the medical staff to describe the image of the unborn child, its size, organs and other features and allow the mother to hear the baby’s heartbeat.

State Rep. Kimberly Moser, R-Taylor Mill, previously explained the bill will help to ensure that women are fully informed before making a final decision about an abortion.

“It is with accurate information that a patient can make an informed decision regarding their treatment, whether it is treatment for a brain tumor requiring an MRI or CAT scan, or if it is to determine the health and the progress of a pregnancy through an ultrasound,” Moser said.

The new law includes an emergency provision that allows it to take effect immediately. On Monday, the ACLU asked a judge to block the law from going into effect.

“Requiring doctors to show every woman ultrasound images and describe them to her – even against her will – violates longstanding constitutional principles, including the right to privacy, the right to bodily integrity and First Amendment freedoms,” said William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU also claims the law violates doctors’ freedom of speech by requiring them to deliver a “government-mandated” message, the Huffington Post reports.

In an interview Monday with WHAS radio, Bevin said they expected the abortion advocacy groups would sue.

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“… that’s what they do, that’s what liberals always do when they don’t like something,” Bevin said. “They go to the courts, hope to find friendly voices and things.”

He also pointed out how the lawsuit names state Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat, as a defendant rather than himself, a pro-life Republican.

“These are the kind of games they are playing,” Bevin said.

WFIE 14 News reports the Kentucky House and Senate passed the bill with “overwhelmingly bipartisan” support last week, the first week of the legislative session.

Kentucky lawmakers have been trying to pass legislation such as the ultrasound bill for years, but the legislation always failed to pass the Democrat-controlled state House. Reuters reports 2017 is the first year that Republicans have had a majority in the Kentucky House of Representatives since 1921.

This is not the first battle between the EMW Women’s Clinic and Bevin’s administration.

In March 2016, the state filed a lawsuit to shut down the abortion group’s Lexington facility after inspectors discovered abortions being performed there without a license. They also found unsanitary conditions inside the facility, according to the Courier Journal.

In August, the state Supreme Court sided with the governor and allowed the state to shut down the EMW abortion facility in Lexington. It continues to operate an abortion facility in Louisville.