The Rundown

Supreme Court denies review of Kentucky ultrasound law

By: - December 9, 2019 2:31 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court. Photo from Supreme Court website.

The United States Supreme Court declined to review a decision allowing Kentucky to require doctors performing abortions to conduct ultrasounds and describe the procedure’s findings to women. 

While the law allows women to decline to look at the ultrasound screen and request for the volume be turned down on the machine, it requires the ultrasounds to be conducted as part of “informed consent.” In an argument against the court decision, representatives from EMW Women’s Surgical Center and others filing the appeal to the Supreme Court, said the law in questions “is flatly inconsistent with the tradition of informed consent.”

In Ohio, a person seeking an abortion is required to undergo an ultrasound to look for a so-called “detectable fetal heartbeat” and to undergo counseling if such a sound is detected. A second trip to the doctor is then required after a 24-hour waiting period for any procedure.

Senate Bill 23, which was passed in Ohio in April, prohibits abortion at the point of “detectable fetal heartbeat,” with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law can also charge doctors with a fifth-degree felony if they conduct abortions without performing an ultrasound to detect a heartbeat, or continuing with the abortion after identifying a heartbeat.

That law has been stayed pending a challenge in U.S. District court.

The primary sponsor of the bill, Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, declined to comment on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and any potential impact on her bill.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.