Stuart et al. v. Loomis

The Center is challenging a newly enacted North Carolina law which prohibits a woman from getting an abortion until four hours after her physician performs an ultrasound, places the ultrasound images in her view, and provides her with a detailed explanation and description of the images, whether or not she wants to see the images or hear any or all of the description.

Filing Date: 9/29/2011

State: North Carolina

Plaintiff(s): Gretchen S. Stuart, M.D., James R. Dingfelder, M.D., David A. Grimes, M.D., Amy Bryant, M.D., Serina Floyd, M.D., Decker & Watson, Inc. d/b/a Piedmont Carolina Medical Clinic, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, A Woman’s Choice of Raleigh, Inc., Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Inc., Takey Crist, M.D., Takey Crist, M.D., P.A. d/b/a Crist Clinic for Women

Center Attorney(s): Julie Rikelman

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Andrew D. Beck, American Civil Liberties Union; Christopher Brook, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation; Diana O. Salgado, Planned Parenthood Federation of America;. Walter Dellinger and Anton Metlitsky of O’Melveny & Myers LLP are providing pro bono support.

Summary: On September 29, 2011, the Center for Reproductive Rights, with ACLU-NC, ACLU, PPFA,  filed a challenge to North Carolina’s new abortion ultrasound law in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

The challenged law prohibits a woman from getting an abortion until four hours after the doctor who will provide the abortion (or a “qualified technician”) performs an ultrasound on the woman and takes steps to show and describe the ultrasound images to the pregnant woman. The law requires the abortion provider to place the ultrasound images where the woman can see them and describe the images to the woman in detail, regardless of her wishes. The suit is brought on behalf of six North Carolina physicians and five facilities which provide abortion services and their patients. Unchallenged portions of the law went into effect on October 26, 2011.The Center argues that the ultrasound requirement violates the First Amendment rights of both the doctor and the patient by forcing physicians to deliver politically-motivated communications to women regardless of the woman’s wishes. The Center also argues that the law harms women by subjecting them to paternalistic “protections” and disrespecting them as decision-makers. In addition, the Center argues that the ultrasound requirements violate basic principles of medical ethics and serve no medical purpose. A preliminary injunction is currently in place preventing the ultrasound requirements from going into effect. Cross motions for summary judgment have been fully briefed before the District Court.

On December 22, 2011, the District Court denied a motion to intervene by three physicians, four “post-abortive women,” and two crisis pregnancy centers. The proposed intervenors, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Jubilee Campaign-Law of Life Project, appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the trial court’s decision on January 24, 2013.

The Center