US Supreme Court won't revive NC abortion law
Posted June 15, 2015
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from North Carolina to revive a requirement that abortion providers show and describe an ultrasound to a pregnant woman before she has an abortion.
The justices left in place an appeals court decision that said the 2011 North Carolina law was "ideological in intent" and violated doctors' free-speech rights.
The North Carolina law would have required abortion providers to display and describe the ultrasound even if the woman refused to look and listen – a mandate that the court found particularly troublesome.
“North Carolinians should take comfort in knowing that this intrusive and unconstitutional law, which placed the ideological agenda of politicians above a doctor’s ability to provide a patient with the specific care she needs, will never go into effect,” Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement. “We’re very glad the courts have recognized that politicians have no business interfering in personal medical decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor.”
North Carolina is among 23 states, mostly in the South and the Midwest, which passed laws dealing with the administration of ultrasounds by abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research institute that supports abortion rights.
"It makes no sense that federal courts would block a woman's access to life-saving information, which results in over 70 percent of women changing their minds about abortion after seeing their unborn child on an ultrasound screen," Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, said in a statement. "In any other medical procedure, doctors would have a duty to disclose all of the relevant information, and, yet, a procedure as destructive and life-changing as abortion is held to a lower standard."
Justice Antonin Scalia voted to hear the appeal.
The court took no action in a separate abortion case from Mississippi. The state is appealing a lower court ruling that effectively allowed Mississippi's lone abortion clinic to remain open and blocked a state law that would have required the clinic's doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
A second appeals court ruling involving a Texas law imposing restrictions on abortion providers also is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court soon. In Texas, the appeals court upheld the admitting privileges requirement and other provisions that could force 11 clinics to close by July 1, lawyers for the clinics said in court papers.
The North Carolina case is Walker-McGill v. Stuart, 14-1172.