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Ultrasound viewing part of NC abortion law blocked

Posted October 25, 2011
Updated October 26, 2011

— A federal judge blocked part of North Carolina's new abortion law Tuesday, ruling providers do not have to place an ultrasound image next to a pregnant woman so she can view it, nor do they have to describe its features and offer her the chance to listen to the heartbeat.

The law was set to take effect Wednesday, but U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles' decision puts a key section of it on hold until she can hear more arguments.

North Carolina legislators and officials have argued that by offering the image to a woman seeking an abortion and other information they would promote childbirth and protect patients from emotional distress associated with the procedure and possible coercion. The judge said she received no evidence supporting those arguments.

North Carolina officials "have not articulated how the speech-and-display requirements address the stated concern in reducing compelled abortions, and none is immediately apparent," the judge wrote in a preliminary injunction.

Eagles said other sections of the law, including a 24-hour waiting period, can be enforced.

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed suit last month over the law, claiming that it infringed on the rights of both women and physicians.

“We are extremely pleased that the court has blocked this clear attack on the fundamental rights of health care providers providing abortions in North Carolina,” Bebe Anderson, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, another plaintiff in the suit, said in a statement.

“The part of the law that the court blocked not only forces doctors to go against their medical judgment to deliver an ideological message to their patients, but also forces women to lie down and just take it," Anderson said. "It’s hard to imagine a more extreme example of government intrusion into the private matters of individual citizens.”

Federal judge blocks portion of NC abortion law Federal judge blocks portion of NC abortion law

Katy Parker, legal director for the ACLU, said the law was too vague about whether women could avert their eyes or refuse to hear and did not provide exceptions for victims of rape and incest.

"(The law) would have required the doctor to put the ultrasound in the woman's face and give information well beyond informed consent, regardless of whether the patient wanted to hear the information," Parker said. "The doctor had to keep talking even if it was clear that it was causing serious psychological consequences to the patient."

House Majority Leader Paul Stam, one of the leading proponents of the abortion restrictions, called Eagles' ruling a partial victory since the judge allowed most of the law to proceed.

"It is unfortunate that the abortion industry, embodied by the plaintiffs in this case, is so opposed to a woman meeting her child before deciding to terminate her pregnancy,” Stam, R-Wake, said in a statement.

Jackie Bonk, director of the Catholic Diocese's pro-life office, said that many women who get abortions have to deal with feelings of regret and remorse following the decision.

"The ultrasound does provide scientific information and it provides more information to know about the life that is within her," she said. "My concern is for the woman – going through the decision and having information."

She said women who have abortions often feel like they have no other choice and that they shouldn't be judged or condemned, but should be prepared for the decision they're making.

"So many times we've heard, 'I didn't know. I thought it was cells. I didn't know how developed it was.' No one wants to have an abortion. No woman ever does. It's a difficult situation to be in. It's a crisis," Bonk said. "Women deserve information to make an informed decision."

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, said late Tuesday its attorneys were reviewing the ruling.

State medical rules already required abortion providers to perform ultrasounds before an abortion to determine the gestational age of the fetus.

The abortion bill became law in July when the Legislature overturned a veto by Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, who said the bill was extreme and encroached upon the doctor-patient relationship.

The judge planned another hearing in December.

325 Comments

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  • dwntwnboy Oct 27, 2:19 p.m.

    "Bottom line, you can't explain why nearly 20% of pregnancies annually end in abortion"- who cares? If it isn't YOUR pregnancy, it's none of YOUR business if 50% to 95% of them end in abortions.

  • Scaramouche Oct 27, 9:51 a.m.

    "How is THAT statement taken verbatim from you an intentional misrepresentation?"

    It's called taking it out of context. The thing is you know that's what you are doing.

  • gunny462 Oct 27, 9:40 a.m.

    "Nobody is paying for it. You lose, gunnette. Scaramouche"

    How is THAT statement taken verbatim from you an intentional misrepresentation? lol yeah THAT is TYPICAL and yeah whatever , liar.

  • seal5050 Oct 27, 9:30 a.m.

    gunny462-the person getting the abortion pays for it themselves. Some insurance's may pay with stipulations.

  • Scaramouche Oct 27, 9:24 a.m.

    "So if nobody is paying for it where's the abortion money coming from?"

    Ahhhhh, I see. You are intentionally misrepresenting what i said again. OK, nevermind.

    "and you didn't lie?"

    Nope, you are the only one lying...again. Still no apology too. Typical moral coward.

    "LOL typical progressive."

    *soft chuckle* Whatever.

  • gunny462 Oct 27, 9:03 a.m.

    “Funny, noboby but me notices the great progressive poobah scara/sarcastic saying that abortions are free but you read something into my comments? LOL”

    "Gunnette, it really is a simple concept, I don't know why you can't grasp it. You know full well that I am neither a Liberal nor a Progressive. I would also appreciate an apology for lying about what I have said, yet again. Scaramouche"

    "And so you answer is to have everyone pay for her MISTAKE? you lose."

    "Nobody is paying for it. You lose, gunnette. Scaramouche"

    Uhhhh... So if nobody is paying for it where's the abortion money coming from? and you didn't lie? LOL typical progressive.

  • Minxi23 Oct 27, 9:03 a.m.

    Thank you to the Judge for making this decision. The ultrasound isn't informative at all regarding risks, etc. Give a woman pamphlets, notes, hard copies of information then yes, you are informing her on the topic, but forcing her to look at the ultrasound is a guilt-trip and unnecessary. What new information (if any) regarding abortion will the ultrasound give, other than the age of the fetus?!? Yes, there will definitely be some women who will gladly accept this informative process, but there are also some women who would rather not have unwanted information shoved down their throats. Why can't the government just quit being so nosey?

  • seal5050 Oct 27, 8:47 a.m.

    flashsparks--Yes I am off the subject at hand but reason I say this is because the GOP is wasting tax payers money and time with their fanatic obsession with issues I brought up like women's rights among other things. Why is this even an issue for women now? JOBS should be the focus of our politicans not how to discriminate and make things harder for anyone which is what is going on. Bottom line, Abortion should always be legal and affordable, those who choose it already are educated at the clinic before the procedure. Again, more time and money wasted on added things such as ultrasound (which is already performed in some cases). This is already a very hard choice for any woman to make.

  • Scaramouche Oct 27, 8:33 a.m.

    “Funny, noboby but me notices the great progressive poobah scara/sarcastic saying that abortions are free but you read something into my comments? LOL”

    Gunnette, it really is a simple concept, I don't know why you can't grasp it. You know full well that I am neither a Liberal nor a Progressive. I would also appreciate an apology for lying about what I have said, yet again.

  • Scaramouche Oct 27, 8:03 a.m.

    "Headpro, are you suggesting that because some couples can't find a healthy white baby under the age of 2, that other women should literally become baby factories?"

    That is exactly what they are saying, storchheim. Can you say "Handmaid's Tale"?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handmaid%27s_Tale

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