The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a ruling striking down North Carolina’s 2011 law to force women to undergo a detailed, narrated ultrasound before receiving abortion care—no exceptions for rape, incest or serious health risks, and even if the woman didn’t want to see the ultrasound images.
Thanks to the court’s decision, the law cannot go into effect.
“North Carolinians should take comfort in knowing that this intrusive and unconstitutional law, which placed the ideological agenda of politicians above a doctor’s ability to provide a patient with the specific care she needs, will never go into effect,” says Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “It underscores, for me, the difficulty with the newest law passed and how legislators need to think more about these things.”
(That law, House Bill 465, the Orwellian-titled “Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015,” extends the waiting period for abortions from 24 hours to 72, just to give ladies some time to think over their obviously wrong choices.)
In December 2014, a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel declared that the ultrasound law violated the First Amendment rights of physicians, as it would force physicians to deliver politically driven messages to the patient even over the patient’s objection. The law would be “transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state” and would undermine “the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes.”
The ultrasound law was first blocked in October 2011 following a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU and others.
Even though the law would have allowed the woman to “avert her eyes” from the ultrasound screen (awful big of them) and to “refuse to hear” the explanation of the images, the provider would have still been required to place the images in front of her and describe them in detail.