Federal court strikes down North Carolina ultrasound abortion requirement
A U.S. District Court judge ruled on Friday that a North Carolina state law requiring women to undergo ultrasound treatments before having an abortion is unconstitutional, the Carolina Mercury reported.
Judge Catherine C. Eagles wrote in her ruling that the law, approved by the state General Assembly in 2011, “is an effort by the state to require health care providers to deliver information in support of the state’s philosophic and social position discouraging abortion and encouraging childbirth, it is content-based, and it is not sufficiently narrowly tailored to survive strict scrutiny.”
Eagles had already blocked the law from taking effect in October 2011 while waiting to hear arguments concerning its effects.
Supporters argued that its requirements that doctors deliver detailed descriptions of the ultrasound and ask patients if they would like to hear the fetus’ heartbeat was an effort to spare the patients from the emotional aftereffects of having an abortion. However, a February 2012 study showed that ultrasounds often do not influence a woman’s decision to do so.
The law was challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as its North Carolina state chapter, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CPR), and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Nancy Northrup, the CPR’s president and CEO, celebrated the verdict in a statement Friday evening.
“Today’s decision represents a robust affirmation of the First Amendment rights of physicians, making clear that politicians cannot use physicians as mouthpieces for their political agenda and interfere with patients’ personal decision making,” Northrup said. “Politicians don’t know better than doctors how to practice medicine, and they don’t know better than women how to navigate the often complicated personal circumstances surrounding a pregnancy.”
Read Eagles’ decision, as posted by the Mercury on Friday, below.
[Image by American Life League via Flicker Creative Commons]