Reproductive justice advocates expressed relief after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an extreme North Carolina anti-choice law that would force doctors to provide coercive “narrated ultrasounds” before performing an abortion.
In this country, its not ok to turn doctors into the mouthpieces of politicians in order to make a woman feel bad about her decision.”
—Jennifer Dalven, ACLU
The top court issued a one-sentence order declining to hear an attempt to revive the law, thereby leaving in place the December 2014 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which found that the law is unconstitutional because “transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes.”
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The legislation would require the doctor to show the ultrasound and describe the fetus in detail, even over the patient’s objection. It was passed in 2011 despite a veto by then-Governor Bev Perdue (D). However, it has never gone into effect, as its constitutionality has been challenged in the courts.
Monday’s ruling was immediately applauded by public health and reproductive justice advocates. “This dangerous and misguided law should never have passed in the first place,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Politicians across the country should take note—these harmful and unconstitutional restrictions won’t be tolerated by the courts or the public.”
“Doctors shouldn’t be forced to humiliate a woman and disregard their best medical judgment in order to provide an abortion,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “The purpose of this law was crystal clear: to shame a woman who has decided to have an abortion out of getting one. In this country, its not ok to turn doctors into the mouthpieces of politicians in order to make a woman feel bad about her decision.”