Mandatory Ultrasounds Found Unconstitutional in North Carolina

Last Friday, a federal judge struck down a North Carolina law that would have required all women to undergo a mandatory ultrasound before seeking an abortion.

The requirement was similar to rules found in several other states, including an Oklahoma law that was previously declared unconstitutional. This law not only mandated that each woman undergo an ultrasound, but that the image of the fetus be shown to the woman and then described in detail by the woman’s physician.  Supporters of the legislation specifically aimed to discourage women from seeking abortions after viewing the ultrasound images.  New research, however, strongly suggests that women are not dissuaded from their choice through this method.  Instead, the required procedure serves largely to add extra time and cost to the choice of abortion.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, in ruling the North Carolina law unconstitutional, said, “The Supreme Court has never held that a state has the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state’s ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term and this court declines to do so today.” 

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