Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed two pro-life bills on Jan. 9 after they rocketed through the Republican-controlled House and Senate on Jan. 7.
The state Senate approved the measure requiring an ultrasound before an abortion in a 32-5 vote, and the House voted 83-12 in favor of a 20-week abortion ban.
While the bills passed overwhelmingly in the legislature, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) already had a legal challenge prepared, immediately filing suit against the ultrasound requirement.
The bill states that an abortionist or ultrasound technician must allow the mother to hear her baby’s heartbeat, display ultrasound images, and provide descriptions of the baby’s gestational age and any visible body parts. But the mother doesn’t have to look or listen: Nothing shall keep “the pregnant woman from averting her eyes from the ultrasound images or requesting the volume of the heartbeat be reduced or turned off,” the bill states.
William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky, decried the new law.
“Requiring doctors to show every woman an ultrasound image and to 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,” he said.
But Ingrid Duran, director of state legislation at National Right to Life, noted that conducting an ultrasound prior to an abortion is nothing new.
“Many abortion clinics will use ultrasound imaging in order to date the pregnancy so that they know what method they’re going to use in that facility,” Duran told me. “If it’s already a standard in their practice, why not allow a mother to see the unborn child? Information is everything before you’re doing something so big.”
Three other states—Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin—have laws in effect requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion, during which the screen must be positioned so the mother can see the images. North Carolina temporarily had such a law, but an appeals court struck it down in 2014, ruling the requirement ideological “compelled speech.”
Duran remains hopeful Kentucky’s ultrasound law will survive its court challenge.
“It’s not putting a burden on women because it’s not creating a barrier,” Duran said. “If anything, it’s just informing her.”
The ACLU has not filed a suit against the 20-week abortion ban, but a spokesman said “legal analysis on that measure is now underway.”
Judges have blocked 20-week bans in Arizona, Georgia, and Idaho, but 15 other states, not including Kentucky, have retained their bans.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: January 16, 2017