North Carolina Governor Opposes Appealing Abortion Ruling that Struck Down Ultrasound Law

McCrory Credit Hal GoodtreeRALEIGH — The governor of North Carolina has expressed his opposition to appealing a recent ruling that struck down the state’s requirement that women obtain an ultrasound prior to having an abortion.

Governor Pat McCrory’s office said in a press release that continuing the fight would be costly. McCrory also stated that he was satisfied that the majority of the abortion law was upheld, albeit without the ultrasound requirement.

“The heart of the legislation remains intact, and patients will still receive access to important information and ample time needed to make decisions,” he explained. “After extensive review, I do not believe costly and drawn out litigation should be continued concerning only one provision that was not upheld by the court.”

As previously reported, lawmakers in North Carolina passed the Women’s Right to Know Act in 2011, which required women to obtain an ultrasound prior to an abortion, and that the abortionist describe the child’s features to the mother, as well as offer the opportunity to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Other parts of the law included a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and that the woman be provided alternatives to abortion.

Then-Governor Beverly Purdue vetoed the legislation after it reached her desk, but was overruled by a majority vote.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America soon filed suit to block the law from going into effect. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles struck down the law as being unconstitutional, asserting that the regulation was “an impermissible attempt to compel [abortion] providers to deliver the state’s message in favor of childbirth and against abortion.”

“The Act requires providers to deliver the state’s message to women who take steps not to hear it and to women who will be harmed by receiving it with no legitimate purpose,” Eagles wrote. “Thus, it is overbroad, and it does not directly advance the state’s interests in reducing psychological harm to women or in increasing informed and voluntary consent.”

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The Charlotte Observer notes that McCrory’s opposition to an appeal does not necessarily mean that the state will not file for one. Attorney General Roy Cooper may decide to proceed with the case after discussing the matter with legislators and other state officials.

The Associated Press notes that a number of lawmakers support appealing the ruling no matter what the cost.

“It’s an important law that saves lives and the ruling should be appealed,” House Speaker Tom Tillis (R-Mecklenberg) recently Tweeted.

“We expect the attorney general to quickly move forward with an appeal of this provision,” Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) agreed in a statement.

Pro-life groups likewise believe that Cooper should move forward and continue the fight.

“No appeals court has found similar ultrasound provisions unconstitutional, and we believe the governor should be in favor of an appeal,” said Tami Fitzgerald, the executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition. “Thankfully, it’s up to the attorney general to appeal, not the governor, and he has said that he believes the provision is constitutional.”

Photo: Hal Goodtree

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