Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded a federal appeals court decision upholding Kentucky’s informed-consent law. The law requires doctors to conduct an ultrasound and present the results to an expectant mother before she provides consent for an abortion. Doctors are also required to let the mother listen to the heartbeat of her unborn baby.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued to stop the law on behalf of the only licensed outpatient abortion clinic in Kentucky, which reportedly performs 3,000 abortions a year. Leading a 15-state coalition, Attorney General Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief last year urging the 6th Circuit to overturn the lower court ruling blocking Kentucky’s law. The brief was referenced in this week’s 2-1 decision by the 6th Circuit, which reversed the lower court’s decision. The 6th Circuit disagreed with the ACLU’s contention that Kentucky’s law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians:
"The information conveyed by an ultrasound image, its description, and the audible beating fetal heart gives a patient greater knowledge of the unborn life inside her,” 6th Circuit Judge John Bush wrote in the majority opinion. “This also inherently provides the patient with more knowledge about the effect of an abortion procedure: it shows her what, or whom, she is consenting to terminate. That this information might persuade a woman to change her mind does not render it suspect under the First Amendment. It just means that it is pertinent to her decision-making."
“I applaud the court’s decision upholding a common-sense law that provides crucial information to a woman considering an abortion,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Legislation enacted in Kentucky, Texas and other states ensures that a woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying, and understands the irrevocable impact of a life-ending decision. And as the court pointed out, an ultrasound image is the ‘epitome’ of truthful and relevant information in the context of the abortion decision.”
In 2011, then-state Representative Paxton co-authored and passed House Bill 15, which requires that an expectant mother be given a chance to view an ultrasound and hear her unborn child’s heartbeat prior to consenting to an abortion. The Texas law was challenged and upheld in 2012 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Approximately 29 states have laws requiring a physician to provide certain information to a patient when obtaining informed consent to perform an abortion procedure.
View a copy of the decision here.