The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in a case concerning a section of the Woman’s Right to Know Act. The provision was struck down in January by U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles, who ruled that it violates the free speech rights of medical providers.
Barbara Holt, president of N.C. Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, emphasized that the woman would not be forced to view the screen, but doctors would be required to put it in her view.
“She can close her eyes; she can look at the wall — she doesn’t have to look,” Holt said.
The ultrasound provision is important, Holt said, because women cannot make an informed decision without the information. She said mothers have told her they had no idea how developed their baby was when they had an abortion performed.
The N.C. American Civil Liberties Union is one of the plaintiffs in this case. Mike Meno, the group’s spokesman, said the ACLU challenged the provision because politicians have no right to intrude on medical procedures.
“The provision is a grievous governmental overreach, and it does not give medical providers any decision-making powers,” he said.
Meno said the provision doesn’t allow any exemptions for rape, incest or tragic diagnoses.
Holt questioned why there should be an exception for cases of rape or incest.
“Rape is a violent act, and abortion is another violent act,” she said.
If a mother does not want the child, Holt said, she can give up the child for adoption.
Alison Kiser, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said that the group continues to oppose the law.
“There has been a political agenda at play ever since the 2011 legislative session,” Kiser said. “The new majority and new state leadership is focused on rolling back women’s access to abortion and not focusing on basic healthcare, like access to birth control and sex education.”
Kiser said decisions about abortion should be made between a woman and her doctor.
Groups such as the American Medical Association, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Public Health Association have spoken in support of Planned Parenthood and doctors’ rights, she said.
Meno said the ACLU is optimistic the panel of three judges will uphold the district court ruling striking down the law.
If the judges do not rule in favor, he said the ACLU will likely consider an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or petition for a full-bench hearing at the 4th Circuit level.