By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — In another disappointing ruling regarding the Woman’s Right to Know law, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles denied a motion filed by Jubilee Campaign’s Law of Life Project that would have allowed women harmed by abortion, medical experts and pregnancy care centers a larger role in defending the new statute.
“We’re saddened that the court may not get the whole picture as they consider the Woman’s Right to Know Law,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “But we are still confident that this law, patterned after others that have saved thousands of lives in other states, is completely constitutional and will eventually save lives here.”
The potential intervenors had requested in early November to join the defendants in the case of Stuart v. Huff, a constitutional challenge filed against WRTK in September by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood. Represented by the Law of Life Project and the Alliance Defense Fund, the group promised to bring to the court evidence that would contradict factual allegations and expert medical opinions that the court had deemed “uncontradicted by Defendants” in Judge Eagles’ Oct. 25 order enjoining the Right to View portion of the law. Their motion also pointed out that medical professionals and pregnancy resource centers are the entities regulated by the Act and that those filing the motion “have experienced, some first-hand, the great harm caused by failure to comply with the Act.”
To successfully be added as defendants in a suit, parties must prove that they have an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the case, show that the protection of their interests would be impaired because of the suit, and show that their interests are not being adequately represented by current defendants.
In a five-page opinion and order signed Dec. 22, Judge Eagles said that “intervention would unnecessarily complicate the case and cause undue delay” and that the proposed intervenors had not met the third requirement. On the contrary, she ruled that the N.C. Attorney General’s Office, representing the state in the case, had “vigorously defended the constitutionality of the Act in the pleadings and in the courtroom.”
“They are adequately and thoroughly representing the same interests the proposed intervenors have,” Judge Eagles wrote, adding that counsel for the Defendants “argued zealously in opposition to the motion” which challenged the law and had “filed a detailed, thorough, and substantial brief addressing the legal questions presented by the Plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief.”
Eagles had in October ruled for the Plaintiffs and issued a preliminary injunction keeping the state from enforcing the portion of WRTK that would have guaranteed women a chance to view an ultrasound and hear its images explained prior to abortion. The rest of the law, including a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that women be given basic information about the gestational age of the baby, the risks of pregnancy and abortion and whether or not the doctor has malpractice insurance or privileges at the local hospital, is already in effect.
As part of the law, the state’s new WRTK web site offers users access to an educational handbook covering such topics as abortion methods, pregnancy risks and ultrasounds as well as a 33-page directory of agencies that offer services to assist women and their babies. The site can be accessed at wrtk.ncdhs.gov.
It is unclear when the U.S. District Court will hear Stuart et al. v. Huff, however the case does not appear on the court’s Web-based calendar which runs through mid-January.