By Hannah Stafford, News Editor
Kentucky pro-lifers celebrated in January when House Bill 2, the “Ultrasound Bill,” was passed unanimously by the state senate. The victory was short-lived however, when a district judge struck down the bill in late September. Shortly after passing the Senate, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the bill claiming that it violated patients’ First Amendment rights.
“HB2 requires physicians to subject their patients to these images, descriptions and sounds, when the patient is in a particularly vulnerable and exposed position,” the ACLU argued, according to CNN.
HB2, which has been battling in the state legislature for over a decade, requires that physicians offer to let the woman receiving an abortion first view her ultrasound that has already been performed. The bill does not force women to see the ultrasound—rather, it requires that the doctor gives them the option.
Despite this, Western District of Kentucky Judge David Hale ruled that “requiring physicians to force upon their patients the information mandated by HB2 has more potential to harm the psychological well-being of the patient than to further the legitimate interests of the Commonwealth,” according to CNN.
Governor Bevin has challenged the court’s ruling, but no change of decision has been made yet.
Many have speculated if this legislation will even be necessary, due to the decline in Kentucky abortion clinics. Kentucky public record shows that in 1978, five years after the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion in America, the state of Kentucky had 17 abortion clinics. Now, 39 years later, only one remains.
“Kentucky literally stands on the verge of making redemptive history,” Rev. Rusty Thomas told the New York Times. Thomas is the director of Operation Save America, a Dallas-based anti-abortion group. “It could be the first surgically abortion-free state in the United States of America.”
Kentucky’s last remaining clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center of Louisville, has been in a licensing battle with Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration in that the clinic does not have transfer agreements with area hospitals in the case of a medical emergency. As a result, the state has sought to close the clinic, and the abortion facility has sued to stay open. The trial ended in early September but district Judge Stivers has yet to make a ruling.