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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects NC Appeal To Require Ultrasounds

An image of the Supreme Court
Kjetil Ree
Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected North Carolina officials' appeal to revive a requirement that abortion providers perform, display and describe an ultrasound for a pregnant woman before she has an abortion.

The Supreme Court left in place the ruling of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal that said the law passed in 2011 was "ideological in intent." The three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled that the law violated physicians' First Amendment rights because it forced them to deliver politically motivated communications to a patient even over the patient's objection.

It would have required abortion providers to display and describe the ultrasound even if the woman refused to look and listen, and would have applied to women who were victims of rape or incest.

In its ruling, the 4th Federal Court of Appeals said the law harms the patient-doctor relationship.

"Transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes," the three-judge panel wrote

The American Civil Liberties' Union was one of the groups who challenged the law. ACLU of North Carolina executive director Sarah Preston said North Carolinians should "take comfort in knowing this intrusive and unconstitutional law" will not go into effect.

"We're very glad the courts have recognized that politicians have no business interfering in personal medical decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor," Preston said.

Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
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