Law & the Courts

Federal Court Upholds Kentucky Law Requiring Ultrasound before Abortion

(Wikimedia Commons)

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a Kentucky law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of her unborn child before the procedure is performed.

In a 2–1 decision, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court ruling that the law placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions and infringed on the First Amendment rights of physicians.

“We hold that HB 2 provides relevant information,” Judge John Bush, a Trump appointee, wrote for the majority. “The information conveyed by an ultrasound image, its description and the audible beating fetal heart gives a patient a greater knowledge of the unborn life inside her. This also inherently provides the patient with more knowledge about the effect of an abortion procedure: it shows her what or whom she is consenting to terminate.”

The law imposes a fine of up to $250,000 on physicians who don’t show and describe an ultrasound of the unborn child to the mother before performing an abortion. The mother is permitted under the law to look away from the ultrasound image and to request that a recording of the baby’s heartbeat be turned down.

Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, an Obama appointee, writing in dissent, argued that the law infringes on the rights of physicians.

“I am gravely concerned with the precedent the majority creates today,” she wrote. “Its decision opens the floodgates to states in this Circuit to manipulate doctor-patient discourse solely for ideological reasons.”

“HB 2 is a restriction on speech that has no basis in the practice of medicine,” she added.

The ruling marks a victory for Republican governor Matt Bevin, who has signed into law four bills restricting abortion access since taking office in 2015. Two of the laws have been struck down by the courts.

“Today is a historic day, as Kentucky continues to lead the charge in implementing strong pro-life protections for its citizens,” Bevin said in a statement released Thursday. “We applaud the decision by the Sixth Circuit, which affirms the commonsense notion that patients should be well equipped with relevant information before making important medical decisions. I am grateful to be governor of a state that values every human life, and we are committed to continue our fight on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.”

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More

In Defense of Tulsi

Some years ago, a liberal-minded friend of mine complained during lunch that Fox News was “stealing” his elderly parents. “They should be enjoying retirement,” he said, noting that they live in a modest but comfortable style with attentive children and grandchildren to enjoy. “But instead,” he sighed, ... Read More

Not Less Religion, Just Different Religion

The Pew Poll tells us that society is secularizing -- particularly among the young -- and who can deny it? That is one reason that the free expression of religion is under such intense pressure in the West. But it seems to me that we aren't really becoming less religious. Rather, many are merely changing that ... Read More

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More