Appeals Court Strikes Down N. Carolina Abortion Law

By Larry O'Dell | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), December 23, 2014 | Go to article overview

Appeals Court Strikes Down N. Carolina Abortion Law


Larry O'Dell, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


RICHMOND, Va. - A North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to show and describe an ultrasound to the pregnant woman is "ideological in intent and violates doctors' free-speech rights, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote that the law goes far beyond what most states have done to ensure that a woman gives informed consent to an abortion.

"While the state itself may promote through various means childbirth over abortion, it may not coerce doctors into voicing that message on behalf of the state in the particular manner and setting attempted here, Wilkinson wrote.

Twenty-three states, mostly in the South and the Midwest, have laws dealing with the administration of ultrasounds by abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports access to abortions. Four other states have enacted laws similar to North Carolina's, although the U.S. Supreme Court last year let stand a lower court ruling invalidating Oklahoma's statute.

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.

"The most serious deviation from standard practice is requiring the physician to display an image and provide an explanation and medical description to a woman who has through ear and eye covering rendered herself temporarily deaf and blind, Wilkinson wrote.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the Richmond- based appeals court upheld a ruling last January by U. …

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