North Carolina Law Letting Women See Ultrasound of Baby Before Abortion Heads to Court

State   Steven Ertelt   Oct 28, 2014   |   4:29PM    Charlotte, NC

Tomorrow, oral arguments will be held at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit regarding a North Carolina law requiring a 24-hour waiting period and informed consent of a woman before an abortion is performed.

In January 2013, a district court imposed a temporary injunction on the law, claiming that its mandated disclosures about abortion are an unconstitutional imposition of “the state’s philosophic and social position discouraging abortion,” rather than being factually based.

The law, which women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before considering an abortion, faced a lawsuit from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The law also requires the abortion practitioner to allow a woman considering an abortion to hear the heartbeat of her baby and to describe what the ultrasound shows.

ultrasound4d21Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden is involved in the case.

“Pro-life laws provide women with crucial information that they wouldn’t otherwise get from abortionists,” said Aden. “The court was wrong to view these reasonable disclosures of fact as merely ideological. This law simply provides women the adequate time and information they need to make such an important decision.”

“The State has a compelling interest in ensuring that women are not rushed or coerced into having an abortion,” the brief in Stuart v. Camnitz explains. “The General Assembly could appropriately take notice that some women who seek to obtain an abortion may have been pressured into doing so, and that women who have the opportunity to see and hear specific information about fetal development have time to ponder the decision and a chance to discuss it with their physician.

“Women in need deserve laws that are in the best interest of their physical and emotional well-being, and that take into consideration their unborn child,” added Aden. “We hope the court will allow this law so that women and children can flourish.”

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles in Greensboro issued the initial ruling about the law, which also provides for a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. The lawsuit, filed in the Middle District of North Carolina, claims the new law violates the rights of women and abortion facilities.

The law is important because women frequently complain they were not shown any ultrasound information before the abortion even though abortion centers routinely do them to determine the age of the unborn child at the time of the abortion.

The pro-life measure received approved from the state legislature this summer and became law when lawmakers overturned a veto from pro-abortion Governor Bev Perdue, a Democrat. The measure helps women obtain information about abortion’s risks and alternatives they may not otherwise receive before an abortion. The bill also allows women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby, something abortion centers routinely do but don’t let women see.

Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina and the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based pro-abortion legal group, joined the lawsuit the ACLU filed. But Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Mecklenburg County Republican who sponsored the bill, told AP she expected the law to survive the legal challenge and said it is in the best interest of women to have it in place.

Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, responded to the lawsuit, saying, “What are abortion advocates afraid of? Probably that when mothers see the recognizable images of their unborn children as they kick and move inside the womb, with beating hearts, abortionists will lose business.”

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Balch added: “As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in Gonzalss v. Carhart in 2007, ‘Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision….The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed. It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know…’”

The Woman’s Right to Know bill, H 854, is similar to legislation other states have passed and is proven to reduce abortions. When women are given information about abortion that Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses don’t routinely provide, they frequently consider alternatives.

The House voted 72-47 in favor of the veto override and the Senate followed suit by voting 29-19 as Sen. Stan Bingham, a Republican who voted against the bill in June, left the building before the override vote.

Planned Parenthood issued the following statement about the override:  “Today’s vote reveals that some legislators care more about scoring political points than they do about protecting women’s rights and health. We urge all North Carolinians who value reproductive rights and health to remember this vote in November of next year.”

But National Right to Life applauded the override.

“Mothers and their unborn children are the victors today because this law would protect a mother’s right to receive vital information prior to making a life or death decision about her unborn child,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee.“With final passage of this law,  no longer will mothers in North Carolina be left to the one-sided sales-promoting information provided by an industry that is in the business of killing unborn children.”

The informed consent bill provides that a booklet containing scientifically accurate information about risks, alternatives and information on the development of the unborn child, compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services, be offered to the mother at least 24 hours prior to an abortion so that she might have the opportunity to read and understand the information.  It also provides that an ultrasound image of the unborn child be displayed at least four hours prior to an abortion so that the mother might view it.

“The abortion industry, working in league with Governor Perdue, attempted to place a financial bottom line above the rights and protection of mothers,” Balch added.

North Carolina Right to Life president Holt said North Carolina will join twenty-five other states with similar informed consent laws for abortion.

“The law [requires] that every mother be given an opportunity to view an ultrasound of her unborn child prior to an abortion. It also would have required the state to create a website where mothers can learn more about the development of their unborn children, alternatives to abortion, and a list of places where they can obtain a free ultrasound,” Holt said.

Some 34 other states already have a waiting period on abortion on the books and Republican Sen. Warren Daniel of Morganton, on the Senate floor, told lawmakers, “We know statistically that this type of legislation helps to make abortions more rare.” He said the bill could reduce the 30,000 abortions in North Carolina annually by as much as 10 percent.

“We believe this gives women the best information they need to make a decision they will live with for the rest of their lives,” said Daniel. “Are we adding regulations to the abortion industry? Yes we are. We know statistically this will save lives.”

During the committee debate on the legislation, lawmakers engaged in a jaw-dropping discussion to determine if it is better that children not be killed in an abortion or save the state money. Members of the appropriations committee debated a fiscal note legislative staff attached to the bill saying it would result in more than 2,900 births of children annually who may otherwise have become victims of abortion. The made the estimates based on similar legislation in Mississippi that resulted in abortion reductions and claimed the births would cost the state approximately $7 million a year in Medicaid expenses.

Rep. Burt Jones of Rockingham was incredulous and said, according to WRAL, that he couldn’t believe legislators were debating whether more abortions or more expenses were better.

“To me, it is incredible that we would even debate the idea that somehow we can improve the fiscal impact of this state by not allowing children to be born,” he said. “I’m a fiscal conservative, but if we’ve got to pay a little more money in this state because more children have the right to be born, then so be it.”