ACLU files lawsuit against Kentucky over new ultrasound abortion law

(Reuter/John Sommers II/Files)Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Matt Bevin addresses the crowd during a campaign stop at Lexington Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, in this May 19, 2014, file photo.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued Kentucky officials over a new law requiring medical staff to conduct an ultrasound on pregnant women prior to an abortion.

The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on Monday, would require a physician or technician to show and describe the ultrasound images to the mother and to provide the audio of the fetal heartbeat. The law allows the pregnant woman to avert her eyes and request to reduce or turn off the volume of the heartbeat.

The legislation contained a provision that allows it to take effect as soon as it is signed by the governor.

Those who are found to be in violation of the law could be fined $100,000 for the first offense and up to $250,000 for subsequent offenses.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on Monday on behalf of the EMW Women's Surgical Center, an abortion clinic in Louisville, Life News reported.

The organization argued that it violates privacy and First Amendment rights.

"Requiring doctors to show every woman ultrasound images and describe them to her – even against her will – violates longstanding constitutional principles, including the right to privacy, the right to bodily integrity and First Amendment freedoms," said William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky.

The ACLU also claimed in the lawsuit that the law violates the doctor's freedom of speech because it requires them to deliver a "government-mandated" message.

The lawsuit named Attorney General Andy Beshear, Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson and Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure Executive Director Michael Rodman as defendants in the case.

Bevin said that he expected abortion advocacy groups to challenge the law in court.

"They sue often," said the governor. "It's not just this state, that's what they do. They are a bunch of liberal lawyers. They try to find resolution for everything they don't like in the courts," he added.

Bevin also signed into law a legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother's life is in danger. The ACLU said that it is currently reviewing the 20-week abortion ban.

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