Appeals Court hears lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s ultrasound law

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

Pro-life Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

In early 2017 the Kentucky legislature passed two new pro-life bills. One was the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (SB5) which then PPFA President Cecile Richards described as “shameful.”

SB5, which has not been challenged, forbids aborting children capable of experiencing excruciating pain while they are killed. But the ACLU quickly went after the second law, HB2.

HB 2 requires an ultrasound prior to an abortion and that the abortionist describes what is seen on that ultrasound. The bills passed both houses in less than a week from the time they were introduced.

Yesterday a three-member panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard legal arguments in Cincinnati on HB2 struck down by U.S. District Court Judge David Hale and appealed by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.

U.S. District Judge David Hale

U.S. District Judge David Hale

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.”

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.”

The AP’s Bruce Schreiner added

When pressed during the hearing to defend the state mandate, Meredith said the information would benefit any woman who mistakenly believes their fetus to be an “inanimate clump of cells and tissue,” not knowing it is starting to assume human form.

Meanwhile on another abortion front, on April 10, Gov. Matt Bevin signed HB 454 into law, making Kentucky the ninth state to ban the vicious and gruesome practice of dismemberment abortion. The ACLU challenged the law and, as reported by NRL News Today, the state of Kentucky and the ACLU subsequently agreed to a joint consent order the effect of which was that state officials agreed to take no action to enforce House Bill 454 pending a ruling on the ACLU’s request for a preliminary injunction.

A June 5 hearing was then held before U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley Jr. who ruled that the law not be enforced until a trial scheduled November 13.

Reporting for Spectrum News back in May, Michon Lindstrom wrote that the state of Kentucky’s brief

argues that if the bill does not go into effect, unborn children will continue to die in a gruesome way through a practice that “would be punishable as a crime were the subject an animal rather than an unborn human.” The brief goes on to say that HB 454 is in the best interest of the state because it protects the dignity of the unborn and ensures doctors’ ethics remain intact.