Supreme Court Upholds Kentucky Law Letting Women See Ultrasound of Their Baby Before Abortion

National   Steven Ertelt   Dec 9, 2019   |   12:45PM    Washington, DC

The Supreme Court has upheld a Kentucky law showing women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before having an abortion. Ultrasounds are generally done before abortions to determine the age of the baby prior to the abortion, but abortion clinics normally don’t let women see their baby because they may change their mind after seeing their child.

The nation’s highest court declined to take up a challenge to the law from abortion activists. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, had asked the courts to strike it down.

The justices did not comment in refusing to review a federal appeals court ruling.

In early 2017 the Kentucky legislature passed the bill and U.S. District Court Judge David Hale struck it down shortly thereafter. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin appealed Judge Hale’s ruling.

In gutting the ultrasound law, which passed overwhelmingly, Judge Hale wrote, “The court recognizes that states have substantial interests in protecting fetal life and ensuring the psychological well-being and informed decision-making of pregnant women,” but added, “However, HB 2 does not advance those interests and impermissibly interferes with physicians’ First Amendment rights.”

But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and refused to have the entire court reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel that upheld the law.

Earlier this year, judges, from the 6th Circuit, ruled 2-1 that the law did not violate a doctor’s First Amendment rights to free speech, writing that the information gleaned from an ultrasound was “pertinent” to a woman’s decision-making.

“The information conveyed by an ultrasound image, its description, and the audible beating fetal heart gives a patient greater knowledge of the unborn life inside her,” wrote John Bush, a nominee of President Trump. “This also inherently provides the patient with more knowledge about the effect of an abortion procedure: it shows her what, or whom, she is consenting to terminate.”

Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, told she was delighted by the news.

“Women facing an unexpected pregnancy deserve to have as much medically and technically accurate information as possible when they are making what could be the most important decision of their life,” she said.

“We are encouraged by today’s Supreme Court decision that lets Kentucky’s pro-life ultrasound law stand,” added SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Modern ultrasound technology opens an unprecedented window into the womb, providing undisputable evidence of the humanity of the unborn child. The abortion industry has proven incapable of policing itself and will stop at nothing to keep vulnerable women in the dark for the sake of profit, which is why state laws protecting women’s right to informed consent are so important. We hope the Court will render another just decision in the case of Louisiana’s law requiring reasonable standards to protect women’s health and safety.”

According to the Associated Press, attorneys from the ACLU, maintained that HB 2 forces abortionists to “deliver ‘ideological’ messages to their patients, even when it’s against a patient’s wishes,” a violating of the abortionist’s’ First Amendment rights.

By contrast, Chad Meredith, an attorney for the state of Kentucky,

said the message isn’t ideological but instead delivers “pure scientific facts” relevant to an abortion procedure. He noted that the lone abortion clinic in Kentucky — EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville — routinely performs ultrasounds before doing abortions.

“All that House Bill 2 requires them to do is to turn the monitor around, show it to the patient and say ‘here is what this depicts,’” he told the court based on an audio recording. “This adds absolutely no more than five minutes to the procedure. There’s nothing unreasonable about this.”

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The law would require abortion center staff to display the ultrasound image for the woman and describe the dimensions of her unborn baby and the presence of internal organs, if seen, according to the Associated Press. The bill includes fines of up to $100,000 for the first offense and $250,000 for subsequent offenses if abortion doctors violate the law by failing to give women the opportunity to see the ultrasound of their unborn child, the report states.

During consideration of the bill, state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, who sponsored the bill, explained why the measure was so important. He said a friend of his shared her abortion story with him and told him how an abortion clinic nurse refused to let her see her unborn child on the ultrasound screen.

“She regrets to this day not being able to see it —knowing now, feeling certain, that had she been able to see it, had she been allowed to see it — she wouldn’t have made the decision that she did,” Westerfield said. “Regardless of everyone’s position on abortion in this chamber, I think we can all agree that fewer is better.”

In attempt to mock the ultrasound bill, a Kentucky Democratic representative also introduced a bill to require men to swear on the Bible to be faithful to their wives before receiving erectile dysfunction prescriptions.