ACLU Sues Kentucky Over Ultrasound Abortion Law

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit to block a new Kentucky law from being passed that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion procedure.

The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, which has been backed by Republicans requires abortion providers to show and explain ultrasound images to the patient seeking the abortion.

The law permits the patient to avert her eyes or to refuse to listen to the heartbeat if she chooses, though it is unclear whether the patient may refuse to listen to the doctor’s description of the ultrasound image.

Any physician or technician who fails to comply with the ultrasound law could be fined up to $100,000 for the first violation and up to $250,000 for each subsequent offense, reports USA Today.

The law was passed under a special emergency process, which allowed it take effect immediately.  The ACLU argued that the law is unconstitutional and violates the right to privacy.

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project said, “The law is an example of political interference operating in its most perverse form.” She added, “A woman deserves to expect high quality, compassionate care from her doctor. Instead, this law puts politicians in the exam room — squarely between a woman and her doctor.”

The ACLU also plans to review another Kentucky law that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), who signed the ultrasound law on Monday, stated it is to “protect our most vulnerable” and is “sound legislation.”  He also said it 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 told reporters from the Associated Press that ACLU has a reputation of suing states for laws they don’t agree with and anticipates that this will not be the last time they sue Kentucky. He said, “They sue often. 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.”

According to The Hill, the ACLU sued on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the only licensed outpatient abortion provider in Kentucky.

The suit claims that Kentucky’s new ultrasound law is nearly identical to a law in North Carolina that was ruled unconstitutional by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 because it violated the doctor’s right to free speech, interfered with doctor-patient relationships, and caused a potential risk to the patient’s psychological health.

H/T: The Hill

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