The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied a petition for a rehearing of Kentucky’s 2017 ultrasound law.
A three-judge panel upheld the constitutionality of the ultrasound law and ruled that the “issues raised in the petition were fully considered upon the original submission and decision” in a prior ruling earlier in April of this year.
The law — House Bill 2 —was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2017 and signed by Gov. Matt Bevin. It was immediately challenged in court and was struck down in district court later that year.
The law requires a physician or technician to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion and show the screen images to her. The doctor or technician is required to inform the mother what the images show and seek the fetus’ heartbeat.
The statute allows the woman to refuse to view the ultrasound and she may ask the provider to mute the sound of the heartbeat.
EMW Women’s Clinic, the only abortion clinic in Kentucky, objected to the ultrasound requirement, saying it violated the center’s First Amendment rights by requiring its staff to speak against their will.
Kentucky’s four bishops, including the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, said in a statement after the appeal’s court’s April ruling that they applaud the court’s decision.
“The statute in question was passed to ensure women have access to unbiased and medically sound information about abortion procedures and the unborn child in the womb before making an irreversible decision to have an abortion,” the bishops said.
Gov. Matt Bevin’s office called the ruling a “major pro-life victory.”
“Today’s ruling is a victory for Kentuckians, for the rule of law, and for commonsense medical practice,” he said in a press release.
This year lawmakers passed several bills to limit abortions and the governor signed them into law. The General Assembly also passed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers’ Act that requires workplaces to reasonably accommodate mothers who are pregnant and nursing. Gov. Bevin signed the measure into law in April.