ACLU sues to overturn new anti-abortion law

ACLU sues to overturn new anti-abortion law

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It took less than 48 hours for the ACLU to file suit to overturn a new law requiring an ultrasound and a description of it for all women getting abortions in Kentucky.

ACLU joins Kentucky's only abortion clinic, EMW Women's Surgical Center, three physicians and their patients in filing the legal challenge.

>> View the lawsuit

The suit is not focused on the ultrasound requirement, which is standard at EMW for medical reasons.

Instead, it targets the requirement for doctors to describe the ultrasound and even play the sound of the heartbeat if there is one. The woman may ask for the volume to be turned down and there are no exceptions for rape or incest.

The suit says the description is, "perverting the informed consent process" and argues it "profoundly intrudes on the practice of medicine and violates basic principles of medical ethics."
The suit adds that the descriptions could be traumatic, especially in cases of rape.

"Requiring doctors to show every woman ultrasound images and describe them to her - even against her will - violates longstanding constitutional principles, including the right to privacy, the right to bodily integrity, and First Amendment freedoms," William Sharp, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said in a statement.

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The suit is asking the bill be ruled unconstitutional on violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In an interview with WAVE 3 News partner station WHAS radio, Governor Matt Bevin said the suit was expected.

"We anticipated as much. That's what they always do," Bevin said. "That's what liberals always do when they don't like something. They run to the courts and hope to find some friendly faces. I find it interesting who they're not naming in that suit. They're not suing me. They're not suing my office."

The law, known as House Bill 2, wasn't the only anti-abortion law passed in the legislature's first week.

Senate Bill 5 bans abortion after 20 weeks, except for medical emergencies.

Kentucky Right to Life Assistant Director Michael Janocik helped write both laws. 

"We're absolutely delighted. It's been about 10 years in the making," Janocik said. "These are common sense bills. They're widely supported and we believe they'll save a lot of lives and help a lot of women."

In a hearing on SB 5, Kate Miller, the program director for Kentucky ACLU, said the law is dangerous.

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"The real issue here is not fetal pain, on which there is no credible scientific support, but the desire to stand in the way between a woman, her family, and her doctor," Miller said.

The bill passed by a large margin in both the House and Senate.

"We were surprised and we're grateful that it moved quickly through there," Janocik said.

The ACLU said it has started a legal analysis on the 20-week abortion ban as well.

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