State to appeal rejection of abortion ultrasound law

Posted February 7, 2014 2:22 p.m. EST

Ultrasound, sonogram, fetus

— Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday that the state will appeal a federal judge's ruling striking 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.

“While I oppose laws like this that force the state into women’s medical decisions, the state will appeal this ruling because legitimate constitutional questions remain that should be decided by a higher court," Cooper said in a statement. "It is the duty of the Office of Attorney General to defend state laws, regardless of whether I agree with them.”

The ultrasound requirement was part of a 2011 abortion law that the General Assembly passed over then-Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto.

The ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America immediately challenged the law, and U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles stayed that one provision while allowing the rest of the law, which included a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, to go into effect.

Eagles last month ruled that mandating a description of the ultrasound images to patients – some of whom don't want to be subjected to it – violates doctors’ free speech rights.

Gov. Pat McCrory said he wasn't interested in appealing the ruling, noting most of the law went into effect and the cost of an appeal wasn't worth the effort.

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger called the ultrasound provision "the most critical piece of the law" and said Eagles' decision should be appealed.