By Micaiah Bilger
Lawyers for the ACLU urged a judge on Thursday to block a Kentucky ultrasound law that requires abortion practitioners to describe the unborn baby and show the mother its image and heartbeat.
The law, one of two that Kentucky lawmakers passed with high priority in January, requires that an abortion practitioner conduct an ultrasound before the abortion (Ultrasounds routinely are performed before abortions anyway). The abortion practitioner also must describe the unborn baby’s image, including its organs and heartbeat, and allow the woman to see her baby’s image and listen to the heartbeat. The law went into immediate effect in January.
Abortion activists quickly challenged the law. On Thursday, ACLU lawyers asked U.S. District Judge David Hale to temporary block the law while their lawsuit proceeds in court, according to the Courier-Journal. Hale did not immediately rule on the request.
The ACLU represents EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, the last abortion clinic in the state. Abortionist Tanya Franklin told the judge Thursday that some of her patients are distraught because they have to look at the ultrasound images.
Here’s more from the Associated Press: “Some of them are crying, some of them are sobbing, some of them are defeated and desperate,” she said.
[Attorney for the state Steve] Pitt said any concern for the unborn was “missing in action” from the ACLU’s arguments and their witnesses.
He said there was “nothing ideological” in the law’s requirements, saying it seeks to ensure women are fully informed before undergoing an abortion. The lack of complete information risks inflicting emotional harm on women long after they have abortions, he said. Kentucky law already requires counseling 24 hours in advance of an abortion.
Pitt said it takes only a few extra minutes for abortion doctors to attempt to show and explain the images, adding that’s not “much of a burden” in the interests of protecting the woman and fetus.
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