Rights groups file suit challenging North Carolina ultrasound law

Rights groups file suit challenging North Carolina ultrasound law

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[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website], along with several other rights groups and physicians, filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday challenging a North Carolina law [HB 854 materials] that requires abortion providers to show women ultrasounds prior to performing abortions. The measure, known as the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” would also require a physician to provide information to the woman regarding gestation, the risks of abortion procedures, abortion alternatives and federal medical benefits available. The plaintiffs claim that the law is unconstitutional under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments [text] of the US Constitution. The complaint furthers alleges that the requirements will inflict significant harm on the doctor-patient relationship, harm the integrity of abortion providers and inflict harm on the abortion patients. The Legal Director for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation [advocacy website], Katy Parker, said the new law would create painful experiences [press release] for women seeking abortions:

This law forces a doctor, while performing an ultrasound, to describe the embryo or fetus and put pictures in front of the woman’s face even if the woman says she doesn’t want to see them. Imagine the pain this causes a woman who is forced to end a wanted pregnancy because of a catastrophic health emergency—or the additional trauma this unnecessary requirement will cause victims of rape or incest. No doctor should be forced to put a patient through that unnecessary trauma.

The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the legislation.

The bill became law in July when the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives voted to override a veto [JURIST reports]
by Governor Beverly Perdue [official website]. North Carolina is one of several state legislatures to have acted recently to limit abortion rights. Both Texas and Florida [JURIST reports] have recently passed bills requiring ultrasounds before abortions. In June, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit challenging the Texas law [JURIST report]. In March, South Dakota passed a law requiring a three-day waiting period [JURIST report] before an abortion—the longest waiting period requirement in the country. That law is also facing a court challenge [JURIST report]. Multiple states have acted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain, including Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports].