Judge tosses NC script for doctors during abortions

Posted January 17, 2014

Ultrasound, sonogram, fetus

— A federal judge on Friday struck down a North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to show a woman an ultrasound and describe the images in detail four hours before she can have an abortion.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ruled that key provisions of the law violate doctors’ free speech rights.

"The Supreme Court has never held that a state has the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state‟s ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term, and this court declines to do so today," Eagles said in a 42-page ruling.

“The court sided with the rights of women and their doctors over the ideological agenda of extremist lawmakers,” Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.

The ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America challenged the law, which legislators passed in 2011 over then-Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto.

Eagles stayed the narration provision of the law three months after the veto override, saying it likely violated the First Amendment. Other provisions, including the requirement for an ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, were allowed to go into effect.

The ultrasound provision would have required abortion providers performing an ultrasound to place the image in the woman’s line of sight. The provider would then be required to describe the embryo or fetus in detail, even if the woman asked the doctor not to, and to offer the woman the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.

The measure made no exceptions for women who had been raped, were victims of incest or were seeking an abortion for medical reasons or in the case of a terminal pregnancy.

"The state has not established that the speech-and-display provision directly advances a substantial state interest in regulating health care, especially when the state does not require the patient to receive the message and the patient takes steps to avoid receipt of the message," Eagles ruled.

“If these unconstitutional measures had gone into effect, doctors would have been prevented from using their best medical judgment to provide patients with care based on their specific individual needs," Rudinger said. "This law represented an egregious government intrusion into individuals’ private medical decisions, and we are very pleased that it will not go into effect."

Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh said he was "deeply saddened" by the ruling.

"This ruling does a great disservice to the women of our state, as it denies those who are pregnant from receiving full access to all available medical information," Burbidge said in a statement. "Women are entitled to and deserve our respect, compassion and support, and so to deny a woman from receiving the truth, especially with regard to a decision which will impact her life and the life of her unborn child, is to deny her the freedom of information that all people expect from their health care providers."


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  • jackjones2nc Jan 23, 2014

    It's unconstitutional for the State to force medical professionals to dictate the message of the State in lieu of providing healthcare to their patients.

  • Atheistinafoxhole Jan 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Don't confuse the Declaration of Independence with the United States Constitution. It seems that "education" is a four letter word (sarcasm intended) to pro-birthers.

  • Hubris Jan 22, 2014

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    LIFE is a four-letter-word to pro-abortionists.

  • Hubris Jan 22, 2014

    "The 1st Amendment applies to freedom of speech from the government, not a private entity.

    The definition from Cornell Law School: http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment"

    KIKINC, funny that you quoted a leftist's law school interpretation instead of going directly to the 1st Amendment itself.

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 22, 2014

    foolmeonce Jan 22, 10:01 a.m.

    It never ceases to amaze me that the most important thing to liberal women, is to protect what they perceive as their right to murder the unborn. You can always count on a liberal judge to over-rule the will of the majority.
    ........While part of what you may have some truth, but not so sure "will of the majority" is the truth in this matter. I seem to remember reading several surveys that the majority support women rights to an abortion.

  • kikinc Jan 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I'm glad to see that someone sees eye to eye with me. I hate being called a liberal because I don't fit that mold, and I can't be called a conservative because I don't fit that mold, either. I like to consider myself as someone with common sense. What people do in their private lives is just that. Private. Those people just need to be able to handle and fund their own choices. Doesn't really matter to me if my neighbor gets an abortion. That has zero to do with me. They have to live with their choices. Not me.

  • icdmbpppl Jan 22, 2014

    It never ceases to amaze me that the most important thing to liberal women, is to protect what they perceive as their right to murder the unborn. You can always count on a liberal judge to over-rule the will of the majority.

  • Krimson Jan 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Sorry, my bad... and I don't think anyone is asking for other people to pay for anything...

  • ericwhiteman1 Jan 22, 2014

    What are you serious! I didn't know that they made them show an ultrasound before you can get an abortion. That completely violates a woman's rights, and I'm glad they're finally getting rid of this kind of garbage.

  • veryfrustrated1 Jan 21, 2014

    Hey Twetts1000, I am a social liberal & fiscal conservative. I say live and let live. Just don't ask me to pay for you to do it!