Extreme Government Intrusion in North Carolina

09.29.2011

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Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners went to court to uphold the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. We’re challenging a new North Carolina law that forces doctors to describe in detail the ultrasound images of all women seeking abortions, without exception—even if the women say no.

If this case sounds familiar, that’s because it is. We blocked enforcement of a nearly identical law in Oklahoma last year and just won a ruling in Texas in which a federal judge found their ultrasound law violates the First Amendment rights of women and doctors alike—compelling doctors “to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen.”

Clearly, these laws raise serious constitutional concerns, but the North Carolina General Assembly went ahead and passed its mandatory sonogram law anyway over the veto of Governor Bev Perdue. Beyond requiring a sonogram and forcing doctors to describe the image, the law also:

  • Requires a physician to offer the woman an opportunity to hear the “fetal heart tone.”
  • Requires the woman’s responses to be recorded as part of her medical record.
  • Makes no exceptions for women who are victims of rape or incest or for women carrying a fetus with a life-threatening anomaly.

It’s difficult to imagine a more extreme example of government intrusion into the private lives of citizens than a law that mandates the performance of a medical procedure for the purpose of conveying lawmakers’ anti-choice agenda. What’s worse is that it’s only the latest in a series of efforts nationwide to undermine women’s fundamental right to abortion by making it harder for doctors to provide the service and for women to obtain it.

Read more about the case, Stuart et al v. Huff >,