Kentucky’s ‘ultrasound-before-abortion’ law left in place by Supreme Court

In 2015, the Supreme Court rejected a bid by North Carolina to revive a similar law that had been struck down. Next month, it will consider a Louisiana law that requires physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The ACLU said the Kentucky law has no medical basis and that its sole objective is to coerce a woman into not getting an abortion. The ACLU argued that "display and describe" ultrasound laws violate physicians' speech rights under the First Amendment.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 14 states require verbal narration and written documentation of an ultrasound prior to a patient's abortion.

The Supreme Court has a 5-4 conservative majority and is closely divided on abortion rights.

The law had been upheld by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but that ruling was on hold pending the Supreme Court appeal. "The only reason to force doctors to display and describe an ultrasound before an abortion - against a patient's will - is to shame and coerce someone who has chose to end a pregnancy".

The law, known as House Bill 2, requires a doctor to explain the details of the ultrasound while letting the patient listen to the fetal heartbeat, but also allows a woman to look away from the ultrasound screen and ask the doctor to turn the sounds off.

"Thus, while the petitioners claim to offer the information to women, there is no evidence that the petitioners do anything to make sure that all women are fully informed about the nature of their fetus or the nature and consequences of the abortion procedure".

"Today the Supreme Court let Kentucky's informed consent law stand - a move that affirms common sense, transparency, and the democratic process", said Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal advisor for The Catholic Association.

Pitt painted a different picture of the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law on behalf of Kentucky's lone remaining abortion clinic.

"The Supreme Court has rubber-stamped extreme political interference in the doctor-patient relationship", said attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas with the ACLU, which helped bring the challenge to Kentucky's law. The law, Kentucky said, "does nothing more than require that women who are considering an abortion be provided with information that is truthful, non-misleading and relevant to their decision of whether to have an abortion".

The ACLU called the law unconstitutional and unethical. The petitioners, including the EMW Women's Surgical Center, challenged it on First Amendment grounds.

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