After over six hours of a hearing on Thursday, a federal district judge is considering the constitutionality of a Kentucky law that requires doctors to show the ultrasound of fetuses to their patients before performing an abortion.
The law, House Bill 2, was passed in January, and also requires doctors to let their patients hear the heartbeats of the fetuses before the abortion. Patients are allowed to look away from the ultrasound images and to ask to turn the volume down or completely off when the doctors let them hear the fetuses’ heartbeat.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the one remaining abortion provider in Kentucky EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the law is unconstitutional because it violates the doctors’ First Amendment rights to free speech.
HB 2 compels doctors “to deliver a government-mandated, ideological message to patients in violation of the First Amendment, all the while causing harm to their patients,” the ACLU stated.
However, Steve Pitt, who is representing Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, argued that there is “nothing ideological” about the law, and that it ensures women make a fully informed decision. He added that the law is not a violation of the First Amendment, referring to previous legal cases in which the government was allowed to require certain entities to make specific statements.
“The law does not prohibit physicians from making any statement to the patients that they wish to make,” said Pitt.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge David Hale did not make a decision right after the hearing on Thursday, and is accepting more written arguments from both sides as he continues to consider the case.