An abortion law requiring clinics to show pregnant women ultrasounds in North Carolina was ruled unconstitutional on Friday. The provision in the law required abortion and pregnancy clinics to reveal the images from ultrasounds so women could see them. They were then supposed to describe the dimensions of an embryo or fetus and other information detailing the stage of pregnancy.
According to the News And Observer, the abortion law was passed in 2011, when the North Carolina General Assembly was primarily Republican. The pro-choice crowd immediately sprung into action, calling the law unconstitutional and an infringement on the rights of women. The ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union were among the leaders in calling for the federal government to step in.
Then Governor, Democrat Bev Perdue, had voted to veto the bill, but was overturned by the General Assembly. Just a year before, Judge Catherine Eagles was placed as one of the judges in the Middle District of North Carolina by President Barack Obama. In a joint case filed against the law, civil rights activists eventually found themselves before Judge Eagles.
Eagles’ major concern that the law was to vague and general. She felt that it required healthcare providers to do something they should not have to do in their private practice, even going as far as to say it was a violation of the first amendment to legally force a healthcare provider to tell their patients unsolicited information.
“The Supreme Court has never held that a state has the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state’s ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term, and this Court declines to do so today,” Eagles ruled.
Lawmakers in support of the law, many of those who voted for it are still sitting in the General Assembly, were outraged by the decision. N.C. House Majority Leader Paul Stam, a Republican from Wake County and advocate of the ultrasound provision, said he was confident the state would appeal.
Both supporters and protestors of the abortion law responded on Twitter.
Federal judge strikes down NC’s ultrasound abortion law/ Very sad. This could save thousands of babies. http://t.co/T9HsD8cTh6
— Daniel Akin (@DannyAkin) January 17, 2014
— WFMY News 2 (@digtriad) January 17, 2014