Published On: Fri, Jan 13th, 2017

ALCU sues Kentucky over ultrasound requirement prior to abortion, ‘perverse form’ of political interference

The American Civil Liberties Union went to court immediately after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed the ultrasound bill into law — one of two abortion measures passed by the GOP-led House and Senate in the first week of the 2017 session. The ACLU claims the ultrasound violates privacy and First Amendment rights of the pregnant woman.

Required in the bill is for the ultrasound to be performed, a fetal heartbeat to be detected and the general health be accessed. The woman can avert her eyes and ask that the volume of the heartbeat be reduced or turned off when audible.

The law “compels women to listen to this government-mandated speech while lying captive on the examination table,” according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville. Gov. Bevin called it “sound legislation” and predicted it would hold up in court.

photo by Carrie Z. via pixabay

“This was crafted in a way to comply with existing law and to still exercise the sovereignty that this state has and this legislative body has to do certain things,” Bevin said after an event at the state Capitol in Frankfort.

The ultrasound legislation was one of two abortion bills sent to Bevin during a rare Saturday legislative session that capped an action-packed week as Republicans acted decisively on this measure and one to block abortions after 20-weeks, a gestational age which science claims the fetus can feel pain.


The ACLU said it filed the lawsuit on behalf of an outpatient abortion facility, its three physicians and their patients.

“The law is an example of political interference operating in its most perverse form,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law puts politicians in the exam room — squarely between a woman and her doctor.”

The ultrasound law provides no exception for circumstances when a doctor believes the procedure would have a traumatic effect on patients, including women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest, the ACLU said.

Any doctors or medical imaging technicians violating the law would be fined up to $100,000 for a first offense and up to $250,000 for subsequent offenses.

Any physician violation would be reported to the state’s medical license board for possible disciplinary action.

Kentucky’s ultrasound law is nearly identical to a North Carolina law struck down by a federal appeals court, the ACLU said.

Bevin predicted it wouldn’t be the last time the ACLU took Kentucky to court to challenge its laws.

“They sue often,” he said. “It’s not just this state, that’s what they do. They are a bunch of liberal lawyers. They try to find resolution for everything they don’t like in the courts.”

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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