Federal Court Strikes Down Narrated Ultrasound Requirement Skip to content

Federal Court Strikes Down Narrated Ultrasound Requirement

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A Federal judge has struck down Kentucky’s “narrated ultrasound” requirement, requiring women preparing to have an abortion to submit to an ultrasound accompanied by the doctor describing out loud what the ultrasound showed and playing the fetal heartbeat. The requirement was enacted as part of HB2, passed by the 2017 General Assembly. The law was challenged by a group of plantiffs, aided and represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Kentucky, and the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers.

From the ACLU-KY web site:

“We are pleased that Kentuckians will no longer be subjected to this demeaning and degrading invasion into their personal health care decisions. This ruling puts us one step closer to getting Kentucky politicians out of the exam room,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

The decision recognized that by “forcing ultrasound images, detailed descriptions of the fetus, and the sounds of the fetal heartbeat on [patients], against their will, at a time when they are most vulnerable,” the law “appears to inflict psychological harm on abortion patients,” and causes them to “experience distress as a result.” In addition, “requiring physicians to force upon their patients the information mandated by the law has more potential to harm the psychological well-being of the patient than to further the legitimate interests of the Commonwealth.”

Below is the text of the order (original PDF here):

Pursuant to Rules 58 and 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and in accordance with the Memorandum Opinion and Order entered this date, it is hereby
ORDERED and ADJUDGED as follows:

(1) Judgment is entered in favor of Plaintiffs as to their first claim for relief. (Docket No. 1, PageID # 13) H.B. 2, codified at Ky. Rev. Stat. §§ 311.727, .990(32), violates the First Amendment rights of physicians.

(2) Defendants and their officers, agents, and employees, and those persons in active concert or participation with Defendants who receive actual notice of this Order, are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing H.B. 2 by civil action, criminal proceeding, administrative action or proceeding, or any other means; penalizing any person for failure to comply with H.B. 2 by civil action, criminal proceeding, administrative action or proceeding, or any other means; and applying, imposing, or requiring compliance with, implementing, or carrying out in any way any part of H.B. 2.

(3) This action is DISMISSED with prejudice and STRICKEN from the Court’s docket.

(4) This is a FINAL and APPEALABLE Judgment, and there is no just cause for delay. September 27, 2017


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