Big win for ultrasound law, temporary setback for ban on dismemberment abortions

By Dave Andrusko

Very good and very bad news, on the same day.

On Friday, the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear an appeal for a rehearing of a decision made in April in which a split three-judge panel upheld H.B. 2, Kentucky’s ultrasound law.

As we reported at the time, the law requires that an ultrasound must be shown prior to an abortion and that the abortionist describes what is seen on that ultrasound.

On September 27, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge David Hale struck down H.B. 2, which both houses of the legislature had passed overwhelming earlier in the year.

The appeals court panel ruled otherwise. Back in April, writing for the majority, Judge John Bush said the question was straightforward: “[D]oes H.B. 2 compel a doctor’s speech in violation of the First Amendment.” The appeals court panel’s conclusion was that it “does not violate a doctor’s right to free speech under the First Amendment.”

EMW Women’s Clinic of Louisville, Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, then asked the full circuit to rehear the case. According to Tom Latek, while we don’t know the exact tally, less than a majority voted to rehear the case.

Latek added

The one-page order stated two of the judges recused from participating in the ruling, while another said she wanted to grant it, so the previous three-judge panel ruling stands.

In a statement on his YouTube channel, Gov. Matt Bevin said, “We’re a pro-life state, we’re a pro-life administration and I’m a pro-life governor, and we won.

“This ultrasound bill will stand. The people of Kentucky will have their voice heard and life will be preserved.”

The lone recourse for the ACLU would be to appeal to the Supreme Court. Latek wrote, “An ACLU spokeswoman says it’s evaluating options.”

Not that it matters to the monomaniacal pro-abortion ACLU, but the bill passed the Senate by an almost four to one margin (38-10) and the House by an almost three to one margin (71-25).

But also on Friday, in a totally unsurprising decision, Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, granted the ACLU a preliminary injunction against Indiana’s ban on the dismemberment of living unborn babies. The law had been set to take effect today.

Her questioning during oral arguments left little doubt where she would come down. (Judge Barker previously issued a preliminary injunction against portions of SEA 404 in a case brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. SEA 404 is a new parental rights law designed to give parents more rights if their minor daughter seeks an abortion.)

The ban on the dismemberment of living unborn babies was authored by Rep. Peggy Mayfield and co-authored by Rep. Christy Stutzman in the Indiana House,” Indiana Right to Life explained. “In the Indiana Senate, Sen. Liz Brown (District 15) shepherded the bill through with support from Sen. Mark Messmer (District 48) and other pro-life senators.”

Reporting for the Journal Gazette, Nikki Kelly wrote that during a Senate committee hearing, Dr. Andrew Mullally of Fort Wayne

said he has never heard of a legitimate medical reason to do the procedure. And he said Hoosiers would be outraged if something similar was done on animals.

“It’s never medically necessary,” he said.

Dr. Christina Francis, a Fort Wayne obstetrician-gynecologist, said the majority of the procedures done now are on healthy moms and relate to socioeconomic reasons or a fetal diagnosis of a disease or anomaly, such as Down syndrome.