Federal Court Strikes Down North Carolina Ultrasound Law
A federal district court permanently blocked a 2011 North Carolina law that required abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and describe the images to the patient, even if the woman objected.
U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles ruled that the "speech-and-display" provision of the law violated the First Amendment. State lawmakers had acknowledged that the ultrasound law was designed to persuade women not to obtain abortions. "Requiring a physician or other health care provider to deliver the state's content-based, non-medical message in his or her own voice as if the message was his or her own constitutes compelled ideological speech and warrants the highest degree of First Amendment protection," wrote Judge Eagles.
"The court's ruling makes clear that politicians cannot use physicians as mouthpieces for their political agenda, and reaffirms the constitutional right of ever woman to decide for herself whether to continue or end a pregnancy," said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights which brought the challenge along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, and Planned Parenthood on behalf of several North Carolina physicians.
North Carolina may appeal the district court's decision. Mandatory ultrasounds have been challenged in Texas and Oklahoma with mixed results. In July 2013, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) signed into law several other extreme anti-abortion measures which require abortion clinics to meet the same requirements as ambulatory surgical centers, eliminate abortion coverage under state employee insurance plans, ban sex-selective abortions, and allow health care providers to refuse to participate in abortion-related care.
Media Resources: Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release 1/17/14; Feminist Newswire 7/30/13, 11/13/13, 2/16/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .