Federal judge blocks North Carolina abortion ultrasound law

January 17, 2014 5:16:35 PM PST
A federal judge ruled Friday that a North Carolina law that requires a doctor show a woman an ultrasound of her fetus before providing an abortion violates a doctor's First Amendment rights.

"The Act requires providers to deliver the state's message to women who take steps not to hear it and to women who will be harmed by receiving it with no legitimate purpose. Thus, it is overbroad, and it does not directly advance the state's interests in reducing psychological harm to women or in increasing informed and voluntary consent," wrote District Judge Catherine C. Eagles.

Click here to read the entire ruling (.pdf)

The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

 "Today the court sided with the rights of women and their doctors over the ideological agenda of extremist lawmakers," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

The law was approved by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 over the veto of then-Governor Beverly Perdue.

Republicans who supported the law in the General Assembly said the measure is designed to give women more information about what happens in an abortion and who is providing it. Social conservatives praised the bill, which also requires a woman consider an offer to see the shape of the fetus and hear a heartbeat.

"I am deeply saddened by the decision today in Greensboro by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles to strike down a North Carolina law that requires those performing abortions to provide a woman with an ultrasound before she decides to have an abortion. 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. 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," said Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, in an issued statement Friday.

No word yet if the state will appeal.

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