In a 2-1 ruling yesterday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling that struck down a Kentucky law requiring doctors to show women ultrasounds of their preborn babies and allow them to listen to the fetal heartbeat, prior to an abortion. According to a press release from the Liberty Counsel, “The legislation specifically requires doctors to describe an ultrasound although women can avert their eyes and ask to have the sound turned off…. [P]hysicians who fail to attempt to show and describe the unborn baby to the patient could face fines of up to $250,000 and action against their medical license.”
The law had previously been ruled unconstitutional, says Liberty Counsel (LC), because a lower court claimed it violated physicians’ free speech rights. “Governor Matt Bevin appealed,” says LC, “and now a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit, led by Judge John Bush, a Trump appointee, has reversed and reinstated the law.”
LC goes on to say in its press release:
The majority opinion, written by Judge Bush and joined by Reagan appointee Alan Eugene Norris, said the Kentucky law did not step on doctors’ First Amendment free speech rights and that ultrasound images were “relevant” to the decision as to whether to terminate what he explicitly called “unborn life.” Bush said the legislation complied with the Supreme Court’s seminal 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which established that states can enact laws necessary to obtain women’s “informed consent” prior to an abortion, as long as those laws don’t pose an “undue burden” on the abortion right.
In addition, LC quotes Judge Bush, who says ultrasounds and heartbeats are not “false or misleading” but “convey objective medical facts,” adding that the information given is “relevant to the patient’s decision whether to abort unborn life.”
“The information conveyed by an ultrasound image, its description, and the audible beating fetal heart gives a patient greater knowledge of the unborn life inside her,” Bush said. “This also inherently provides the patient with more knowledge about the effect of an abortion procedure: it shows her what, or whom, she is consenting to terminate. That this information might persuade a woman to change her mind does not render it suspect under the First Amendment. It just means that it is pertinent to her decision-making.”
LC also points out that this ruling could positively affect South Dakota abortion law, where Governor Kristi Noem recently signed four bills which “will require abortionists to give women the chance to see a sonogram of their baby and listen to his or her heartbeat….”
In 2018, an Obama-appointed judge, Tanya Walton-Pratt, who has consistently ruled against pro-life laws, slapped down a similar Indiana law requiring an ultrasound 18 hours prior to an abortion as part of informed consent. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Life Site News reported at that time, “The court claimed that rather than ‘serv[ing] the intended goal of persuading women to carry a pregnancy to term,’ the offer to see an ultrasound and the 18-hour delay were nothing more than a ‘large barrier.'” The same judge claimed that the state’s informed consent informational brochure which claimed that life begins at fertilization is still a “debated” idea.
While some may “debate” the idea of life beginning at the moment the sperm fertilizes the ovum, it is, indeed, a scientific fact, which embryologists and scientists have stated and observed for many, many years. And ultrasound allows women to see the truth about the human beings growing in their wombs.
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