By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
February 11, 2014
The Woman’s Right to Know ultrasound provision that could help save unborn lives and prevent years of remorse for those considering abortion may yet become a reality in North Carolina, as the Attorney General has agreed to challenge a recent court ruling against it. Meanwhile pro-abortion forces are pushing against a state law designed to increase safety standards at abortion clinics.
Notwithstanding his personal beliefs, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Feb. 7 that the state would appeal U.S. District Judge Judge Catherine Eagle’s Jan. 17 ruling against having a medical professional display and describe sonogram images to a pregnant woman before she has an abortion. Cooper said that although he personally considers the law an intrusion into a woman’s medical decision, he admitted that “legitimate constitutional questions remain that should be decided by a higher court.”
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, views the pending appeal as a small victory for life.
“We’re especially encouraged since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld similar provisions in a Texas law,” said Dr. Creech. “Personal opinions aside, the Attorney General is absolutely right when he says this should go to a higher court.”
Passed by a bipartisan majority in 2011, the Woman’s Right to Know Act ensures that women considering abortion are provided with information about all of their options and requires a 24-hour waiting period. The “speech-and-display” portion of the law, which mandates an ultrasound that a woman can view and a verbal description of the unborn child, has never been implemented, however. When abortion providers filed suit against the law, Judge Eagles issued an injunction against the requirement, and more recently ruled it a violation of free speech — a ruling that Gov. Pat McCrory said the state should accept without appeal.
“We’re so glad the Attorney General didn’t follow the Governor’s lead on this one, especially in light of what’s at stake,” said Dr. Creech. “Women getting ready to make what is arguably one of the most important decisions of their lives — a decision that obviously determines whether that baby will even get a shot at life — need all the information they can get.”
He said that’s why the Fifth Circuit’s ruling makes more sense than Judge Eagles’.
That court ruled, in part, “…the provision of sonograms and the fetal heartbeat are routine measures in pregnancy medicine today. They are viewed as ‘medically necessary’ for the mother and fetus …. The point of informed consent laws is to allow the patient to evaluate her condition and render her best decision under difficult circumstances. Denying her up to date medical information is more of an abuse to her ability to decide than providing the information.”
The ruling further declared “truthful, non-misleading and relevant disclosures” as not imposing an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion.
“This gives us hope that a higher court could rule similarly and allow the state to require healthcare providers to give women complete information before an abortion, which we know leads to fewer abortions,” Dr. Creech added.
Both the N.C. Family Policy Council and the N.C. Values Coalition had spoken out in favor of appeal as did many lawmakers who had sponsored the Woman’s Right to Know.
“We are still confident the state will prevail on the merits of the case through the appeals process,” House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) told the media.
Meanwhile, NARAL Pro-Choice N.C. put together a petition drive that brought in 1,700 signatures asking the Department of Health and Human Services to, in effect, go easy on abortion clinics as it develops new rules regarding health and safety.
Pro-abortion forces have accused Republicans of putting politics above women’s health.
“Because of their political agenda, thousands of women and families could lose access to safe and affordable preventative care,” NARAL Director Suzanne Buckley said in a press release.
But supporters of the new measure, part of the Health and Safety Law Changes bill passed last year, point out that an update to abortion clinic regulations is long overdue. Though they initially sought to hold abortion facilities to the same standards as same-day surgery centers, the law instead charges DHHS to develop rules similar to the surgery centers. To that end, the agency has gathered feedback from the state Board of Nursing, two abortion clinic representatives, two ob/gyn physicians and an abortionist.
“As the Christian Action League has mentioned before, this panel is obviously stacked with pro-abortionists,” said Rev. Creech. “We agree with Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) that this is an issue we must monitor and be ready to call for stronger regulations when the draft rules become public.”