Supreme Court refuses to hear Kentucky abortion case in blow to pro-choice movement
The abortion rights movement suffered another blow after the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge against a Kentucky law that requires a pregnant person receive an ultrasound before receiving an abortion. The court announced its decision Monday without any additional comment, according to NBC News. The case revolved around an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the doctors at the only abortion clinic left in Kentucky. The state's law, enacted in 2017, requires doctors to perform an ultrasound, record the fetus’s heartbeat, and present the information to the patient before the patient can receive an abortion.
The ACLU asserted the law was enacted to dissuade pregnant people from having abortions and caused patients unnecessary stress. The organization additionally argued that the law violated doctors' First Amendment rights, per CNN, by forcing their speech.
“The physicians at Kentucky’s last abortion clinic will be forced to subject every patient to their ultrasound images, a detailed description of those images, and the sounds of the fetal heart tones prior to an abortion — even if the patient objects or is covering their eyes and blocking their ears, and even if the physician believes that doing so will cause harm to the patient,” the ACLU said in a statement.
BuzzFeed News reports that Kentucky argued that the law “does nothing more than require that women who are considering an abortion be provided with information that is truthful, non-misleading, and relevant to their decision of whether to have an abortion."
The Supreme Court’s decision means that a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will stand. The court of appeals originally ruled there was “nothing suspect” about the law, obligating that doctors are obligated to share findings “even if those disclosures relate to unborn life and have the effect of persuading the patient not to have an abortion."
The Kentucky GOP rejoiced following the announcement, writing on Twitter: "This is a HUGE win for the pro-life movement!"
The pro-life movement has been attacking the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which said women have the constitutional right to access abortions, from several angles. In late November, Ohio Republicans introduced a bill to make certain abortions punishable by life in prison or the death penalty. Around the same time, Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives passed a law requiring the burial of fetal remains — problematic because it would place the burden on abortion clinics to find vendors to perform the task. This could drive up the cost of abortions, making them inaccessible to low-income people.
Pro-lifers have relied heavily on misinformation to perpetuate their cause. The aforementioned Ohio law would require doctors to attempt to “re-implant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus,” which is in fact impossible and would make a precarious health situation even worse for the pregnant person. And last week, researchers published a study of an “abortion reversal” pill in which they said they halted their trial after three women were sent to the hospital due to heavy vaginal bleeding. Not to mention: There isn’t any proof that such an "abortion reversal" pill works.
The next abortion law on the Supreme Court’s docket is a hearing about whether Louisiana should be allowed to require abortion providers to obtain admission privileges — a completely medically unnecessary mandate. That case is scheduled to be heard March 4, 2020.