Federal court strikes down Kentucky's mandatory ultrasound requirement

The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act was signed into law in January.

A federal court today issued an order that strikes down an anti-abortion law that forced doctors to display and describe a patient's ultrasound, as well as to play the fetal heartbeat, even if the doctor believed it would harm the patient or it was against her wishes. It allowed for the woman to avoid looking at the images and to request the volume of the heartbeat be turned off.

The medical staff were required to describe what the images show, including the size of the fetus and any organs or appendages visible. If they don't, they could be fined up to $250,000.

The judge's ruling comes after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit arguing that the bill violates a woman's rights by imposing unnecessary requirements on her abortion procedure.

Lawyers for the state say that's not true, because the law only requires doctors to "disclose truthful, non-misleading, and relevant information".

Western District of Kentucky Judge David Hale overturned the measure, saying in his ruling that it violates the First Amendment, according to CNN. "This ruling puts us one step closer to getting Kentucky politicians out of the exam room".

Amanda Stamper, a spokeswoman for Gov. Matt Bevin, said the administration would appeal the decision.

Last June, in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court struck down similar laws requiring doctors who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

However, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a similar law in North Carolina was unconstitutional.

Bevin is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

The judge's ruling also follows a legal battle which started in March after Bevin said that the state's last clinic abortion didn't have the required transfer agreements and tried to close it.

The bill was one of two anti-abortion laws the state passed in early 2017, the second being a prohibition on abortions at or after 20 weeks.

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