U.S. Supreme Deals Blow To Strict North Carolina Anti-Abortion Law

| by Michael Allen

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a North Carolina law in 2014 that forced doctors to do an ultrasound on women seeking a legal abortion.

The law also required that doctors show the women the sonogram image and describe the fetus in detail, even if the women didn't want to hear the description.

In December 2014, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in court's opinion: “The state freely admits that the purpose and anticipated effect is to convince women seeking abortions to change their minds or reassess their decisions,” noted The New York Times.

“The state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient,” Wilkinson added.

However, North Carolina vowed to defend the law in the U.S. Supreme Court on the claim that Texas had a similar ultrasound requirement that a federal court supported.

Barbara Holt, president of the pro-life group North Carolina Right to Life, said in 2014, "We have a right that trumps free speech, and that’s our unalienable right to life."

However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case today, which means the law is struck down.

Mother Jones reports: "Unlike similar laws in Texas, Wisconsin, and Louisiana that include some exceptions for victims of rape or incest, the North Carolina measure made no exceptions for rape, incest, health risks to the mother, or severe abnormalities in the fetus."

The Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature passed the (unconstitutional) law over the veto of then-Democrat Governor Bev Purdue of North Carolina in 2011.

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett seemed to blame North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper for the loss:

This case once again raises serious questions of ethical and professional conflicts of interests for Roy Cooper, who is supposed to be our state’s top lawyer. At the same time he says he’s defending North Carolina’s law in court, he was sending campaign fundraising emails criticizing the very laws he’s sworn to defend. North Carolinians deserve an attorney general focused on doing his job and representing the people of North Carolina, not advancing his own political career.

Sources: The New York Times, Mother Jones, North Carolina Republican Party
Image Credit: Michael Holley