Judge Says North Carolina Can't Force Women To View Ultrasound Before Abortion

There's a bit of good news today in the ongoing battle against lawmakers who want to keep government small, yet extremely focused on private conversations between you and your doctor. Today a judge blocked the part of North Carolina's new abortion law that would require doctors to show patients an ultrasound image and describe their fetus' features shortly before an abortion. The law was scheduled to go into effect today, but the judge says she wants to hear more arguments, as those already offered by legislators were totally unconvincing.

As mentioned earlier, the law would require women to have an ultrasound at least four hours before a scheduled procedure. The law directs doctors to describe the fetus in detail, including the size of its organs and limbs, even if the woman tells her doctor to stop, with no exceptions for cases of rape and incest. If the woman refuses to look at the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat, doctors must record that and keep her name on file for seven years.

Today U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ruled that legislators can add a 24-hour waiting period to the state's existing requirement that abortion providers perform ultrasounds before an abortion. However, Eagles granted a preliminary injunction to the physicians and health care providers who filed a lawsuit to challenging the provision that they must show and describe the fetus to their patients.

State legislators said the requirement prevents women from being forced into an abortion and protects them from the emotional distress caused by the procedure. Eagles responded in her decision that, state officials "have not articulated how the speech-and-display requirements address the stated concern in reducing compelled abortions, and none is immediately apparent" — probably because they just made that stuff up.

According to the Center For Reproductive Rights, North Carolina is the third state to approve a law that would force women to view ultrasound images before abortion, but similar measures in Texas and Oklahoma have also been blocked by courts. In North Carolina another hearing is scheduled for December, and it seems likely that this attempt to force politics into what doctors say to their patients will be struck down for good.

Judge Blocks Controversial N.C. Abortion Law [AP]
Judge Blocks Part Of North Carolina Abortion Law [Reuters]

Earlier: Crisis Pregnancy Centers Say The Darndest Things
North Carolina's Ultrasound Bill Becomes Law

Image via Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.