The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the state of North Carolina this week who tried to revive its law requiring doctors to conduct ultrasounds and describe the fetuses to women wanting an abortion.
The ruling, which was made Monday, comes as a win for pro-choice advocates in the state, while others have recently fallen to anti-choice rulings. Texas is expected to close 11 abortion clinics in July after the state passed an omnibus anti-abortion law earlier this month, while Tuesday, the state of Ohio approved a bill that would ban abortions on fetuses that have been diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The North Carolina Women's Right to Know Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court this week, required doctors to provide “an explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting, which shall include the presence, location, and dimensions of the unborn child within the uterus and the number of unborn children depicted.” The doctor would be obliged to offer this information even if the woman does not want to hear it.
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The Supreme Court's decision left in place an earlier appeals court ruling that deemed the law to be unconstitutional and against the First Amendment for violating doctors' rights to free speech.
“The state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient,” judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in December for the United States Court of Appeals, adding the law “imposes a virtually unprecedented burden on the right of professional speech.”
Roy Cooper, the state's attorney general, disagreed with the ruling saying “the law is perfectly consistent with the First Amendment as a reasonable regulation of medical practice.” He added that 24 states currently require an ultrasound to be performed or offered before performing an abortion.
The Supreme Court ruling will only be applied to the state of North Carolina and will not affect the validity of any similar laws in other states.
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