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The new suit aims to block Kentucky's HB2, which forces doctors to perform an ultrasound on a women before she has an abortion. (Photo: Shane Conneely/flickr/cc)

ACLU Takes Aim at New Rights-Violating Anti-Choice Bill in Kentucky

Civil liberties group files suit same day as fast-tracked bill goes into effect

Andrea Germanos

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Monday took swift legal against an anti-women bill fast-tracked by Kentucky lawmakers, decrying it as "an example of political interference operating in its most perverse form."

The bill in question is HB2, one of two anti-abortion measures passed during a special session on Saturday, which (pdf) forces a doctor to perform an ultrasound (which may have to be done trans-vaginally) before a woman has the procedure, make the woman hear the fetus' heartbeat if one is present, and display and describe the image to her—though the woman may "avert her eyes" and request the volume be turned down or off.

Because it included an emergency clause, the bill has already gone into effect.

The ACLU states that

HB2 violates the rights of Plaintiffs under the First Amendment, as applied through the Fourteenth Amendment, to the U.S. Constitution by forcing them to deliver unwanted, government-mandated speech; in particular, the Act compels physicians to convey to their abortion patients in a private medical setting unwanted government-mandated speech that falls outside accepted and ethical standards and practices for medical informed consent.

"A woman deserves to expect high quality compassionate care from her doctor," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. "Instead, this law puts politicians in the exam room—squarely between a woman and her doctor."

A press statement announcing the legal action also notes that the "new Kentucky laws are just the latest in a torrent of restrictions passed by state legislatures over the last few years. In fact, states have passed 338 restrictions since 2010, excluding the new Kentucky laws, according to the Guttmacher Institute."

The case is EMW Women's Surgical Center v. Beshear.


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