Louisville-based abortion provider sues Ky. officials over pro-life ultrasound law
It accuses the law of requiring women to listen to "government-mandated speech" while "lying captive" on the examination table.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's only abortion center, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has filed a federal lawsuit against several Kentucky officials over new legislation that would require women to view an ultrasound before getting an abortion.
In a rare weekend session of the General Assembly, the newly elected Republican legislature passed the bill, known as H.B. 2, which was promptly signed by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. The legislation went into effect on Monday.
But also on Monday, the EMW Women's Surgical Center, along with doctors Ernest Marshall, M.D., Ashlee Bergin, M.D., and Tanya Franklin, M.D., filed a lawsuit against Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Secretary of Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, and Michael Glisson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU.
The lawsuit claims that the new legislation violates the First Amendment to the Constitution.
"The Act, which was rushed through the Kentucky Legislature and took immediate effect less than one week after it was introduced, forces physicians to, inter alia, show a woman seeking an abortion ultrasound images of her embryo or fetus, auscultate the heartbeat, and provide a detailed description of the embryo or fetus prior to performing the abortion, even over their patients' objection. H.B. 2 requires the physician to engage in this state-mandated speech simultaneous with the ultrasound procedure itself -- in other words, while the woman is partially disrobed, lying on the examination table -- regardless of whether the woman wishes to see the images, hear the heartbeat, or hear the description of the fetus. Indeed, even if the woman objects to any or all of these procedures, and even if the experience is causing the woman emotion and/or psychological distress, the physician must perform the elements required by H.B. 2 against the woman's will."
The lawsuit calls the ultrasound requirement, "a government-mandated, ideological message to patients in violation of the First Amendment." It also accuses the law of requiring women to listen to "government-mandated speech" while "lying captive" on the examination table.
The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare H.B. 2 unconstitutional.
On Monday afternoon, Attorney General Beshear's office was contacted by WDRB News and issued a brief statement, saying only that, "We have received the suit and are reviewing it."
Lawmakers on both sides of the abortion debate are speaking out.
Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Dist. 3, said Saturday that fetuses are human beings and should, "have a chance to live, to have a chance to learn, to have a chance to run for office and sit in one of these seats, to have a chance to be adopted by someone like me and my life. To live! They are not unwanted children to the world."
"I don't know many people that like abortion," said Democratic Senator Morgan McGarvey, Saturday. "I certainly don't. But I think we have to respect people's decisions, and I think we have to recognize what the role of government is in those decisions, and we're going too far right now."
Below is a copy of the lawsuit:
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