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Published On: Sat, Sep 30th, 2017

Judge strikes down Kentucky’s law requiring a sonogram prior to an abortion, it ‘upsets’ the patients

Federal Judge David Hale  struck down a Kentucky pro-life law requiring women to obtain an ultrasound prior to an abortion, asserting that mandating mothers to look at the images of the babies prior to the procedure “appears to inflict psychological harm on abortion patients.”

“Requiring physicians to force upon their patients the information mandated by H.B. 2 has more potential to harm the psychological well-being of the patient than to further the legitimate interests of the Commonwealth,” wrote Hale, who was appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama.

Hale noted that court testimony showed that some women exhibited signs of distress after seeing their baby and/or hearing the child’s heartbeat.

photo Danielle Catrett White

“Most patients choose to look away from the ultrasound image. But although they may attempt to avoid listening to the fetal heartbeat and ultrasound description, it is impossible for patients to entirely drown out the sounds. During the process mandated by H.B. 2, patients are ‘very upset,’ ‘crying,’ and even ‘sobbing,’” Hale wrote.

The Judge claimed this could be especially hard on women who were raped or choose an abortion due to fetal anomaly.

“The Commonwealth submitted several affidavits from women who chose to have an abortion but later came to regret their decision after realizing that they may not have been fully informed about the procedure. While compelling, the affidavits are irrelevant; all of the affiants had abortions prior to the passage of the informed consent laws preceding H.B. 2.,” Hale also asserted.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had filed suit earlier this year to challenge in the law on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center: “Physicians have an ethical obligation to avoid harming their patients,” the ACLU wrote in its complaint. “H.B. 2 forces physicians to defy that ethical obligation by forcing images, descriptions, and heartbeats on patients, even if the patients asks the doctor not to and even when the physician believes that doing so would be distressing or even traumatic for a patient.”

The group expressed satisfaction with Wednesday’s ruling.

“We are pleased that Kentucky women will no longer be subjected to this demeaning and degrading invasion into their personal health care decisions,” attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas said in a statement. “This ruling puts us one step closer to getting Kentucky politicians out of the exam room.”

Gov. Matt Bevin’s office vowed to appeal.

“We are disappointed in the court’s ruling and will appeal immediately to the Sixth Circuit,” said spokesperson Amanda Stamper. “We are confident the constitutionality of H.B. 2 will be upheld, as similar laws have been in both the Fifth and Eighth Circuits.”

“Not only is abortion the only legal form of murder in the U.S., it is an immensely serious medical procedure with significant risks,” also lamented Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “Judge Hale and these liberal lawyers want the surgery to be regulated as if it were no more complicated than a doctor’s visit for a sore throat.”

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