North Carolina asks Supreme Court to hear abortion ultrasound case

By Dave Andrusko

ultrasound63On Monday North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Solicitor General, John F. Maddrey asked the Supreme Court to take up the decision of a three-judge panel of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down The “Right to View” provision of North Carolina’s 2011 “Woman’s Right to Know” law.

Cooper, a likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2016, said at the time of the appeals court decision that he opposed the provision but had a duty to defend it in court.

The provision requires 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 and that she be given the opportunity to hear the unborn child’s heartbeat.

Writing for the panel in December 2014, Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson argued that this amounted to “compelled speech, even though it is a regulation of the medical profession,” and “is ideological in intent and in kind.”

Judge Wilkinson added, “Abortion may well be a special case because of the undeniable gravity of all that is involved, but it cannot be so special a case that all other professional rights and medical norms go out the window.”

At the time of Judge Wilkinson’s 37-page decision, Barbara Holt, executive director of North Carolina Right to Life, told NRL News Today, “We are disappointed by the decision of the Court striking down North Carolina’s Ultrasound law.” Holt added, “Turning the screen at an angle where the mother may view it if she wishes is very little to ask, considering that a human life hangs in the balance.”

The law, passed with bi-partisan support, was enacted in July 2011 over then-Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto. The “Right to View” provision was preliminarily enjoined by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles in October of 2011. On January 17, 2014, Judge Eagles, an Obama appointee, issued a permanent injunction which the state appealed a month later.

When the two sides squared off in front of the appeals court in October 2014, the coalition of opponents argued that the right to view provision amounted to “compelled speech” which “hijacks a provider’s [the abortionist’s] voice,” according to Julie Rikelman from the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Not so, said Maddrey. The provision adds “relevant, truthful, real-time information” to North Carolina’s informed consent law,” he said, according to the Associated Press. He added, according to reporter Larry O’Dell, that the state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that a woman’s decision “is mature and informed.”

Maddrey went on to add that “The possibility that sharing physical characteristics of a fetus might make a woman reconsider does not make it unconstitutional,” Franco Ordoñez of McClatchy Newspapers reported.

Maddrey “cited earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions that found that the state has a legitimate interest to protect not only the health of a pregnant woman but also the life of the embryo or fetus she is carrying.”

Maddrey said, “There is an additional state interest at play,” the unborn child