(PRESS RELEASE) This afternoon, the North Carolina Senate overrode Governor
Beverly Perdue’s veto of an abortion ultrasound law. The vote follows a House
override on Tuesday, July 26. The poorly drafted provisions could require women
seeking abortion services to first receive an ultrasound. Healthcare providers
must then show the patient the ultrasound image and describe it in detail.
“It is extremely
disheartening that the North Carolina legislature would go out of its way to
enact a law that uses the doctor-patient relationship to advance a political
agenda,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for
Reproductive Rights. “When women go to the doctor, they don’t expect to be
held hostage in an attempt to change their minds. They rightfully expect to be
treated as an adult capable of making their own personal decisions. This law is
an affront to a woman’s dignity and a violation of her constitutional
Under the U.S.
Constitution, forcing unwilling patients to listen to a description of an
ultrasound image may violate their right to avoid unwanted, government-mandated
speech in the privacy of a medical office. In addition, forcing doctors to
deliver unwanted speech seriously interferes with the doctor-patient
relationship. Patients expect their doctors to provide them with relevant and
necessary medical information, not to deliver politically-motivated
Only two states have
enacted legislation that forces doctors to show their patients the ultrasound
image and provide a detailed explanation of that image. The Center for
Reproductive Rights is currently challenging both restrictions in Oklahoma and Texas on
the grounds that the measures violate free speech and equal protection rights.
The Oklahoma law has been blocked from enforcement until the case is resolved.
A request to preliminarily block enforcement of the Texas law is currently
before a federal court. Ultrasound restrictions in other states require doctors
to offer women an opportunity to view the image or hear a description, but do
not mandate it.