Supreme Court lets abortion ultrasound law stand


A majority of states require ultrasounds before abortions, but a smaller number has varying requirements about what must be offered to the woman.

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a Kentucky law requiring doctors to describe ultrasound images and play fetal heartbeat sound to abortion seekers.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the Kentucky law, but its sister court in Richmond, Virginia, struck down a similar measure in North Carolina.

"In that regard, although many find the Kentucky law offensive, it doesn't implicate the same fundamental questions about the continuing scope of the right to choose that the justices identified in Roe as other cases already on the court's docket this term and coming down the pipeline", Vladeck added. The appeals court, however, found the statute's ultrasound requirements to be within the parameters of the First Amendment as it applies to speech required in professional settings.

The Supreme Court has a 5-4 conservative majority and is closely divided on abortion rights. The case hears a challenge to a Louisiana law that requires all doctors who perform or induce an abortion to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. "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".

In 2018, the Supreme Court blocked a California law requiring clinics that counsel women against abortion to notify clients of the availability of abortions paid for by the state, finding that it violated the free speech rights of the facilities.

The panel said the court reaffirmed its 1992 ruling that a compelled informed-consent disclosure is constitutional as long as it is truthful, not misleading, and relevant to the patient's decision.

Challengers, including an abortion clinic, brought a First Amendment challenge arguing that the law forced a patient to see the images even if she didn't want to.

"Women facing an unexpected pregnancy deserve to have as much medically and technically accurate information as possible when they are making what could be the most important decision of their life", said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, an anti-abortion group.

ACLU lawyer Alexa Kolbi-Molinas said in a statement to the Associated Press that she thinks the law is unconstitutional and unethical. They argued it violates the patient-doctor relationship.

The Kentucky case is EMW Women's Surgical Center v. Meier.