A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Federal judge issues ruling striking down Kentucky abortion law requiring ultrasound

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

A Kentucky law requiring doctors who conduct abortions to display and describe a patient’s ultrasound as well as play the fetal heartbeat to the pregnant woman violates the First Amendment rights of those physicians, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge David Hale ruled late Wednesday in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union’s challenge to the law by the state’s only abortion provider, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, and bans the state from enforcing it.

Attorney Steve Pitt, the general counsel for Gov. Matt Bevin, talks to reporters outside the courthouse after a trial earlier this month. A federal judge struck down a Kentucky abortion law on Wednesday. (Kentucky Today/Robin Cornetet)

“This is a vindication of the rights of Kentuckians and their physicians, and it marks a significant victory against the General Assembly’s overreach into the area of reproductive healthcare,” said William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky.

Earlier this year, the state attempted to shut down EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the last abortion clinic in Kentucky, saying it lacked proper agreements with a hospital and ambulance service. The ACLU and a Kentucky law firm sued, arguing that the state was targeting abortion providers for medically unnecessary regulation.

Another federal judge blocked the attempt to close the clinic. The trial was held earlier this month.

The ACLU said in a statement that the court recognized the law “appears to inflict psychological harm on abortion patients,” and causes them to “experience distress as a result.”

“We are pleased that Kentuckians will no longer be subjected to this demeaning and degrading invasion into their personal health care decisions. This ruling puts us one step closer to getting Kentucky politicians out of the exam room,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

Kentucky, which had 17 abortion providers in 1978, was trying to become the only state in the nation without an abortion clinic. Besides Kentucky, six other states – North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Mississippi, Wyoming and West Virginia – have only one such clinic.

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One Comment

  1. Jen says:

    So now abortion clinics, when selling abortions, can continue to mislead women about their fetuses only being, “blobs of tissue, nothing more than a piece of rice, unformed bodies – not a baby yet…” while they are violently pulling out a tiny human being – in pieces- from a safe place, and turning around to sell their organs, muscle tissue, extremities, and other sought out body parts to labs across the Nation. Meanwhile, the woman leaves distraught, because deep down she know what was done was not right, something in her soul feels unwell, something is missing. What happens down the road when she learns about fetal development in school, or carries a child to term and sees a 3d image of her 9 week child swimming and bouncing around in her womb and can not help but be over come by the awe, beauty, and humanity of their little one – at that point the horror of a past abortion kicks in, the ultimate despair, the regret that stabs like a knife in the back and steals any chance of breath. Realizing the mistake they made in allowing themselves to be led to abortion, even while being ignorant at the time, is the type of pain that can force a woman to turn let go of any dreams, to give up, to turn to drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, among other things such as abusive relationships. It is a very hard pill to swallow to realise you destroyed your own child, no amount of tears, nor regret will ever bring back an aborted child. There is no hope in waiting to be sought out when that child turns 18, he or she is gone forever.

    An ultrasound saved my own child’s life. I named her Liberty. She ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. At one point I had judged and condemned her as a problem, a threat to my future goals and education. I feared the embarrassment of telling my family – I was pregnant straight out of high school, first semester in college. At 8 weeks, I thought she was not formed yet, not alive. Planned Parenthood ended up closing early the day I went to them for help and I ended up at a women’s pregnancy center where I was given the support I needed.

    A week later, I saw my daughter on a 3d ultrasound machine. I was amazed! She was so beautiful, completely formed at 8.5 weeks and using her arms to turn herself around, just as I would if swimming. I loved her instantly and promised that someone would have to kill me first before ever putting her in harms way. I do not know what overcame me, but once I saw my child, I adored her! The week before, when I did not know who she was, I was thinking of aborting her to save my own dreams and future career.

    The love I had for my child inspired and motivated me to my core. I started my 2nd year of college, three days after she was born. I found a job that allowed me to bring her to work during the days I had off from school, and worked my weekends as a waitress. I bought our first home when I was 21, and had it paid off when I was 25. I learned how to refinish hardwood floors, hang and mud drywall, lay a toilet, cut grass and landscape, and many other things as I made our house our home.

    I graduated with a bachelors, spent three weeks backpacking and touring Europe with my daughter, visited Haiti after their devastating earthquake and assisted an orphanage, and I have now begun law school while raising my daughter on my own – without being able to rely on child support.

    My beautiful daughter has been in the 97th academic percentile since 3rd grade. She was scoring at college level since the 8th grade. She has her own dream, goals, and plans. I can not wait to see the impact she will have on this world! All of this is possible because an abortion clinic closed early and was not open when I tried to open the door. I thank God every single day! I have friends who have been robbed to their joy. I have friends who made decisions to abort out of ignorance and greatly regret their decision and would give anything to have known the truth the day they laid their bodies down and submitted their children to such a violent death.

    They see me and what I have accomplished being a single parent, and realize that parenthood is not a dead end. If anything, unconditional love for a child only makes you stronger, feel deeper, work harder, dream bigger, sacrifice freely, think more creatively, and appreciate everything – even the little things.

    Life is beautiful. Judge David Hale’s decision to strike down the ultrasound law unrests my soul. Women will only be kept in the dark regarding the truth which allows exploitation by an industry that profits off of death and heartache. It is a sad day for me and for the future victims of abortion: both mother and child.

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