A federal judge on Tuesday blocked part of new North Carolina law that requires abortion providers to show women an ultrasound and describe the images in detail four hours before having an abortion. The law also requires doctors to offer women the chance to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus.

The new law was set to take effect on Wednesday, but U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles stopped it from being implemented until she can hear further arguments.

A coalition of groups filed a lawsuit in late September challenging the constitutionality of the law.

North Carolina lawmakers argued the law would protect women from the emotional distress caused by having an abortion by persuading them to give birth, but the judge was not convinced.

"If the ultrasound requirements were put into effect, this law would place doctors in a murky legal situation and inflict unnecessary harm on women,” said Katy Parker, Legal Director for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation.

“The state should not be using women’s bodies as political pawns, as this law clearly seeks to do. We look forward to continuing our arguments and hope that the court sides with the rights of women and their doctors over the ideological agenda of lawmakers.”

Other parts of the law, including a 24 hour waiting period, were not blocked.

Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue had vetoed the bill, but in July the Republican-led state legislature overturned his veto.

Photo: Flickr User Ohio Progress.