The U.S. District Court Western District of Kentucky has ruled that a law forcing women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion procedure is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights of patient and doctor by forcing them to listen to a government-mandated message.
The law required doctors to show an ultrasound image of the fetus, along with audio of its heartbeat, to a pregnant woman before performing an abortion. Under the law, a woman could avoid looking and ask to have the sound turned off.
In his ruling, District Judge David Hale further clarified that Kentucky’s HB2 “does not advance a substantial governmental interest, is not drawn to achieve the government’s interests, and prevents no actual harm.”
“We are pleased that Kentucky women will no longer be subjected to this demeaning and degrading invasion into their personal health care decisions,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an ACLU attorney.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit against Kentucky on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center (the state’s sole licensed abortion facility) and three physicians, and their patients, just days after the ultrasound bill was passed by Republican lawmakers in January.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin supported both anti-abortion laws pushed through by the Republican-led Senate.
HB2, according to a report in CNN, is one of two anti-abortion measures signed into law this year in Kentucky. The second, Senate Bill 5, prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and does not contain any exceptions for instances of rape or incest. The law does make an exception if the life of mother is at risk.
SB5 remains on the books.