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One News Now

Arguments on ‘Woman’s Right to Know’ Being Heard in Court

By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
December 12, 2012

GREENSBORO — U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, who put a temporary halt on the portion of North Carolina’s Woman’s Right to Know Act that would have ensured that a woman got a chance to view an ultrasound of her unborn child before choosing whether to abort, is now hearing arguments as to whether that injunction should be upheld.

According to The Chronicle at Duke University, the matter, part of Stuart v. Huff filed in September 2011, is undergoing summary judgment briefing, “which means the defendants and plaintiffs are arguing their respective sides to Eagles,” who may then either announce a ruling or send the case on to trial, which could begin as early as January.

“This is an injunction that we pray will end, either with Judge Eagle’s ruling or a trial that clears the way for full implementation of this life-saving law,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “No woman would be forced to look at a monitor. The law would simply ensure that the mother is offered that opportunity. What we know from reports from pregnancy care centers is that many women, when they see that the life inside them is already a baby and not a ‘lump of tissue,’ they choose life.”

Thanks to the Woman’s Right to Know legislation — enacted by a bi-partisan override of then-Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto — for more than a year women seeking an abortion in the Tar Heel state have been more informed about the baby’s gestational age, the risks of pregnancy and abortion and whether or not the doctor has malpractice insurance or privileges at the local hospital. They have also been given information about resources in their community available to them if they choose to carry to term and a full day to process all the information thanks to a 24-hour waiting period that is also part of the law.

What they haven’t been able to do, as a result of Judge Eagles’ injunction, is have the privilege of watching their own ultrasound or hearing the fetal heartbeat. Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights are among those arguing against allowing women these experiences, which they say are medically unnecessary.

“There’s no medical basis to [the ultrasound requirement] whatsoever,” Dr. Serina Floyd, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Duke Medicine and a plaintiff in the case told the media. “It’s entirely ethical, moral and political and not in any way medically based.”

But Barbara Holt, president of North Carolina Right to Life, said women need access to ultrasound to make fully informed decisions. “The ultrasound is a window into the womb and the opportunity for this mother to get scientifically accurate information about a procedure that is going to have great consequences for her and for her child,” she said when the law was passed. “It’s a life or death decision.”

Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake), a longtime pro-life advocate,  pointed out that North Carolina’s Administrative Code already requires — and has required since at least 1994 — that ultrasounds be performed on patients scheduled for abortions. Often the women are already being billed for the procedure, but simply aren’t given the chance to view it.

“It is unfortunate that the abortion industry, embodied by the Plaintiffs in this case, is so opposed to a woman meeting her child before deciding to terminate her pregnancy,” Rep. Stam wrote in a press release after the case was filed.

In a summary of legal rights of unborn children featured on his Web site, Stam contends that until the passage of the Woman’s Right to Know Act last year, he would estimate that more than 90 percent of surgical abortions were performed by doctors who had never met their patients before encountering them on the operating table.

He said in Mississippi, the type of information offered by the Woman’s Right to Know Act dropped the rate of abortions in the state by approximately 10 percent and that a similar result was expected in North Carolina if the law is fully implemented.

“If the abortion rate in North Carolina does drop by approximately 10 percent, then the new information provided by the law is changing the minds of women considering abortion,” he wrote. “Ensuring that each woman is provided with the necessary information to make an informed decision is the ultimate goal of the new law; and if the information is changing minds, and subsequently action, the information is material to her decision and should not have been withheld from her in the first place.”