Judge Hears Challenge to Kentucky Ultrasound Law

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Judge David Hale

U.S. District Judge David Hale

U.S. District Judge David Hale Thursday heard an ACLU challenge to Kentucky’s new ultrasound law, which went into effect January 9, and a spirited defense of HB2 by the state. The ACLU filed its lawsuit shortly after pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin signed the bill into law.

Back in January, Gov. Bevin told WHAS-AM host Terry Meiners

“It’s a shocker that the ACLU is suing someone,” said Bevin, a Republican and abortion opponent. “We anticipated as much. That’s what they do. It’s what liberals always do when they don’t like something, they sue.”

Twenty-five states have enacted various kinds of ultrasound laws. The common denominator is that an abortion-minded woman is given the opportunity to view the ultrasound of her unborn child.

An abortionist testified yesterday that the law’s requirement has been upsetting to women. “Some of them are crying, some of them are sobbing, some of them are defeated and desperate,” Dr. Tanya Franklin said, according to Deborah Yetter of the (Louisville) Courier-Journal. Opponents also maintain the law is unconstitutional because it requires abortionists to describe the unborn child.

But lawyer M. Stephen Pitt, representing the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the law

is meant to protect women who might regret abortions or may not fully understand the procedure. It might prompt a woman to reconsider an abortion by thinking “Gosh, there’s a living human being inside me. Maybe I don’t want to do this,” Pitt said.

The law doesn’t make doctors provide any political or ideological comments, he said.

Pitt, who also is general counsel to Bevin, a supporter of the ultrasound law, asked the judge not to temporarily block the law in the interests of “of an unknown number of children who might be born.”

“I submit saving one life is enough if that’s what it does,” Pitt said.

The ACLU is bringing the challenge on of behalf of the state’s only abortion provider, EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville. Judge Hale did not issue a ruling Thursday on the ACLU’s request to temporarily bar enforcement of the ultrasound law.

When Kentucky passed HB2, Ingrid Duran, NRLC director of State Legislation, told NRL News Today

Kentucky took an important step in the right direction in order to protect mothers and their unborn children by enacting the ultrasound law and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection act. There is nothing unconstitutional about giving mothers all of the information they deserve prior to making such a life-and-death decision.

The ACLU is clearly operating on the side of fear because they’re aware of the positive impacts these laws have for mothers and unborn children.

Kentucky’s pro-life state House and Senate also passed SB5, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which Bevin also signed into law.

Swift passage of SB5 and HB2 came after pro-life Republicans, already in control of the state Senate, won a majority in the state House where pro-life measures had previously been bottled up by Democrats under the leadership of outgoing Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo.

SB5 allows exceptions if an abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life or prevent substantial, irreversible harm to any of her major bodily functions.

SB5, like the laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, says you cannot abort a child capable of experiencing pain, a capacity that medical science has demonstrated takes place no later than at 20 weeks.