Pro-Life Win: High Court Upholds Law Requiring Ultrasounds before Abortions

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Published Dec 09, 2019
Pro-Life Win: High Court Upholds Law Requiring Ultrasounds before Abortions

The U.S. Supreme Court handed the pro-life community a major victory Monday, upholding a Kentucky law that requires abortion doctors to show and describe an ultrasound to the pregnant woman and let her listen to any heartbeat, too.

The justices, without comment, refused to hear an appeal of a decision from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in April upheld the law in a 2-1 decision. 

The law, H.B. 2, doesn’t require the women to watch or listen, but nevertheless is one of the more strict ultrasound laws in the country, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute

The law requires the abortion doctor show the woman the images and provide an “explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting,” which must include “the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.” Further, it requires the doctor to allow the woman to hear a heartbeat if a “heartbeat is audible.” 

The pregnant woman then must sign a form indicating she either viewed the images and listened to the heartbeat or declined to do so.

“Neither the physician, the qualified technician, nor the pregnant woman shall be subject to any penalty if the pregnant woman refuses to look at the displayed ultrasound images or to listen to the heartbeat if the heartbeat is audible,” the law says.

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law on behalf of a Kentucky abortion clinic. Guttmacher, on its website, criticizes ultrasound laws, calling them a “veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion.” Guttmacher also say an “ultrasound can add significantly to the cost of the procedure.”

Pro-life leaders applauded the Supreme Court’s action.

“When women have the chance to see the humanity of their child & hear their heartbeat, many reject the violence of abortion,” tweeted Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action. “This is a great win for Kentucky & our nation.”


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Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog,

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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.