Courts gavel scales

GREENSBORO — A federal judge on Friday said she would take “several weeks at minimum” before ruling on a law that requires women to undergo an ultrasound four hours before having an abortion.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs that include the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina.

The state legislature passed the ultrasound law in 2011. Then-Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed it, but the state legislature overrode the veto. The plaintiffs filed the suit two months later.

The law, also known as the Women’s Right to Know Act, also requires a doctor to put the ultrasound image in the woman’s view and to describe it.

Eagles issued a preliminary injunction in October 2011 to make sure key provisions would not go into effect until she settled the constitutional issues.

Julie Rikelman, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Friday that the law violates physicians’ First Amendment rights by making them convey an “ideological message.”

She also argued that the requirement for a doctor to describe ultrasound images to a patient is not informative, as the patient is not required to listen to what the doctor says and can even choose to wear blinders and headphones.

For the doctor to offer the description without the patient listening would be a “farce,” Rikelman said.

Faison Hicks, a special deputy attorney general for the state, argued that information about the ultrasound image should be made available to those who want to hear it.

“Sometimes we just have to hear what is unpleasant,” he said. “Some people are willing to do that. Some are not.”

Hicks also argued that if a woman who has undergone an abortion and “only later realized what she did,” she may later be “psychologically injured.” Making information about the ultrasound available might prevent that, he said.


GREENSBORO - A federal judge today said it could take several weeks to make a decision on a summary judgment in a lawsuit involving a controversial ultrasound law.

Plaintiffs, which include the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said the law violates the first amendment rights of doctors.

The state attorney said the law just makes information available.

We'll update this story as more details become available.


GREENSBORO - A federal judge in U.S. District Court in Greensboro this morning will hear arguments on motions in a lawsuit involving a controversial ultrasound law.

The legislature in 2011 passed a bill requiring women to get an ultrasound four hours before an abortion, and for the doctor to the put the ultrasound image within the view of the woman and describe it.

Among the plaintiffs in the suit are the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles placed a preliminary injunction on the law in October 2011 to allow the suit to work its way through the system.

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Contact Robert C. Lopez at 691-5091, and follow @rclopez79 on Twitter.

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