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Ky. Gov. Bevin to appeal decision striking down state ultrasound law

by | Sep 28, 2017

Kentucky’s pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin today promised to appeal the decision handed down late Wednesday night by U.S. District Court Judge David Hale that struck down HB 2, the state’s new ultrasound law.

“We are disappointed in the Court’s ruling and will appeal immediately to the 6th Circuit,” said Amanda Stamper, a spokeswoman for Bevin. “We are confident the constitutionality of HB 2 will be upheld, as similar laws have been in both the 5th and 8th Circuits.”

HB 2 was one of two new pro-life bills passed by the Kentucky legislature in January. The other was the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (SB5) which PPFA President Cecile Richards described as “shameful.” The bills passed both houses in less than a week from the time they were introduced.

Passage of SB5 raised to 16 the number of states with laws (15 in effect) that forbid abortions performed on unborn babies 20 weeks or older. Those include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In gutting the ultrasound law, 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,” adding, “However, HB 2 does not advance those interests and impermissibly interferes with physicians’ First Amendment rights.”

The Lexington Times-Leader’s Daniel Desrochers wrote

In his ruling, Hale said the law violates a doctor’s First Amendment rights and fails to better inform women because it allows them to cover their eyes to avoid seeing an image of the fetus.

What odd reasoning. Allowing the woman to avert her eyes means HB2 “fails to inform women.” If it had required women to look at the image, no doubt Judge Hale would have criticized that, too.

Twenty-five states have enacted various kinds of ultrasound laws. The common denominator is that an abortion-minded woman is given the opportunity to view the ultrasound of her unborn child.

Desrochers writes, “House Bill 2 requires doctors to show women an image of their ultrasound, describe what it depicts and share the heartbeat of the child if one is present.” As noted above the woman can choose to avoid watching the image and can request that the sound be turned down or off.

The ACLU challenged HB2 the day Gov. Bevin signed it into law.

“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, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “This ruling puts us one step closer to getting Kentucky politicians out of the exam room.”

By contrast, “I respect Judge Hale’s decision but I disagree with his conclusion,” House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “This was the first bill passed in January by our new majority in the House. We went to great lengths to craft the bill in a way we felt was constitutionally sound. I look forward to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals having a chance to review this decision.”

Categories: Judicial