Supreme Court Leaves in Place Kentucky Law Requiring Abortionists to Share Ultrasounds with Mother

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 30: The Phillips 3D ultrasound showing an unborn child at Insight Radiology, Auckland New Zealand, Tuesday November 30. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)
Michael Bradley/Getty Images

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to a lower court’s ruling on a Kentucky law that requires abortionists to perform an ultrasound and share its description with the mother prior to the procedure.

Signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in 2017, the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act also requires abortionists to offer mothers an opportunity to hear their unborn babies’ heartbeat prior to its termination.

The decision to decline the case leaves the law in place.

National Review reported, “No justices dissented from the decision not to hear the case.”

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a 2-1 vote, struck down a lower court ruling that declared the law unconstitutional because it violates the free speech of physicians.

Judge John K. Bush, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote in the majority opinion that while the law requires doctors to offer the ultrasound images and descriptions of them to the mothers, “[t]here is no requirement that the patient view the images or listen to the doctor’s description.”

Bush added that protecting the life of the unborn is a “legitimate goal that may be pursued by a State as part of informed consent.”

He further wrote:

As a First Amendment matter, there is nothing suspect with a State’s requiring a doctor, before performing an abortion, to make truthful, non-misleading factual disclosures, relevant to informed consent, even if those disclosures relate to unborn life and have the effect of persuading the patient not to have an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville.

Politico noted the ACLU “argued [the law] violates the First Amendment by forcing doctors to engage in state-mandated speech, even when they fear it will cause trauma or psychological harm to their patients.”

Kentucky, however, has argued that women seeking abortions must receive full information about their unborn baby prior to ending its life in order to give informed consent to the 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. “Rather than keep women in the dark, Kentucky requires all medical professionals, (including abortionists) to disclose vital information related to a woman’s pregnancy and her developing child. Women deserve to know all the facts before making such a consequential decision.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, also referred to the need for women to have “medically and technically accurate information” when seeking an abortion, which she said “could be the most important decision of their life.”

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