N.C. judge: ultrasounds not required
    January 29 2014 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

    On Jan. 19, churches and pro-life organizations celebrated Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Also, the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade was remembered Jan. 22 by thousands of pro-life supporters rallying during the annual March for Life on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
     
    These “life” events come on the heels of a state injunction that will affect pregnancy centers and pro-life nonprofits in the state of North Carolina.
     
    Friday, Jan. 17, Catherine Eagles, U.S. District Court Judge, found that the ultrasound requirement of the 2011 law – “Woman’s Right to Know Act” (WRTK) – violates First Amendment rights. WRTK requires abortion providers to display and describe ultrasound images to all women seeking abortion in the state.
     
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    Eagles issued a permanent injunction against WRTK that was first approved by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 over the veto of Governor Beverly Perdue. The WRTK bill overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly with the N.C. House vote, 72-47, and the Senate vote, 29-19.
     
    “This ruling by Judge Eagles is egregious on several levels,” said Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. “The fact that she would turn the First Amendment on its head in this fashion is beyond the pale. The ruling actually stifles free speech.
     
    “To rule against the ultrasound requirement – that only by a woman’s consent the doctor avail her of an opportunity to see and learn about her fetus – is a suppression of free speech. This is a suppression of a woman’s right to know all the information that helps her make an intelligent decision about the procedure.”
     
    Eagles’ decision does not strike down the full WRTK law. Her injunction targets the “speak-and-display” provision. This provision requires an abortion provider to conduct an ultrasound at least four hours – and no more than 72 hours – before an abortion.
     
    Also, the law requires the provider to display the ultrasound images to the woman and to describe the image in detail, including the size and age of the unborn child.
     
    WRTK was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
     
    “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,” wrote Eagles in her 42-page opinion and order issued January 17.
     
    Eagles said, “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.”
     
    Republicans and social conservatives who supported WRTK said the law is designed to give women adequate and balanced information about the methods of abortion and who provides it.
     
    Creech said, “The irony of the court’s decision is that it cites free speech. But who speaks for the unborn child? It cannot speak.
     
    “Without the ultrasound provision, it has no voice.”
     
    There is no word yet if the state will appeal the Eagles’ decision.
    1/29/2014 12:54:48 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: abortion, free speech, politics




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