Federal Court Upholds Kentucky Abortion Ultrasound Law

Yesterday, a federal appeals court ruled that Kentucky’s ultrasound requirement before an abortion is constitutional. The law was passed in 2017 and it requires doctors to show the images of an ultrasound to women who are aborting their babies.

The law, known as HB2, also requires doctors to play audio of the fetus’ heartbeat before the abortion can proceed. Any doctor who doesn’t obey the law is liable to pay $250,000 in fines alongside a possible suspension or revocation of medical license.

Previously, a lower court had ruled that HB2 was unconstitutional because it violated the rights of doctors providing abortions and it placed unnecessary burden on women seeking to terminate their pregnancies. However, that court ruling was struck down by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We hold that HB 2 provides relevant information. 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,” Judge John Bush wrote in the ruling reported by the Louisville Courier Journal.

The appeals court’s decision comes after a federal judge recently extended a suspension on two state abortion bans. One prohibits abortions in the presence of a fetal heartbeat and the other bans abortions on the basis of race, sex or disability, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

Kentucky’s Governor Matt Bevin praised the ruling, calling it “a major, pro-life legal victory.”