SCOTUS denies First Amendment challenge to Kentucky ultrasound abortion law

SCOTUS denies First Amendment challenge to Kentucky ultrasound abortion law

"Kentucky's mandatory narrated ultrasound law forces doctors to display and describe a patient's ultrasound images against the patient's will - while they are lying on the exam table, half-naked, with a probe inside their vagina", they wrote. "This law is not only unconstitutional, but, as the leading medical experts and ethics specialists explained, it is deeply unethical".

The divided judges found Kentucky's law met that test, so "it does not violate a doctor's right to free speech under the First Amendment".

"Kentucky argued the law is "simple and straightforward", calling it part of an" informed-consent process". "Rather than keep women in the dark, Kentucky requires all medical professionals, (including abortionists) to disclose vital information related to a woman's pregnancy and her developing child". That Court decision said that crisis pregnancy centers would be "likely to succeed" in their First Amendment case against California's law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post information about abortions.

In April, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, a decision that was then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The high court's decision not to review the ultrasound case came on Bevin's final day in office.

Meanwhile, Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, a pro-life non-profit organization, welcomed the Supreme Court decision. The court said the law imposes an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortion.

The Supreme Court has opted to leave in place a pro-life Kentucky law that requires women seeking an abortion to see an ultrasound of their unborn children before making the decision to abort. The court has shifted to the right after Justice Anthony Kennedy, a decisive vote in favour of abortion rights, retired in 2018 and was replaced by Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh, who has a thin judicial record on the issue.

Bloomberg reports that EMW Women's Surgical is Kentucky's only abortion provider.

"We hold that [the law] provides relevant information", the 6th Circuit opinion reads.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 14 states require verbal narration and written documentation of an ultrasound prior to a patient's abortion.

"By refusing to review the 6th Circuit ruling, the Supreme Court has marked extreme political interference in the doctor-patient relationship", said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a lawyer for the staff of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

Later this term, judges should consider a separate Louisiana law that requires doctors to obtain admission privileges from a nearby hospital. In the past, SCOTUS has been quick to strike down regulations perceived as an "undue burden" on abortion access, including in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey and 2016's Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. A similar law in Texas was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2012.

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