By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
August 29, 2013
GREENSBORO — The fate of many unborn children in North Carolina may hang in the balance as U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles weighs the arguments in a lawsuit against the ultrasound portion of the Woman’s Right to Know Act passed in 2011.
Thanks to the WRTK legislation — enacted by a bi-partisan override of then-Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto — women seeking an abortion in the Tar Heel state are now more informed about the baby’s gestational age, the risks of pregnancy and abortion and whether or not their doctor has malpractice insurance or privileges at the local hospital. They are also being given details about resources in their community available to them if they choose to carry to term and a full day to process all the information as a result of the 24-hour waiting period that is also part of the law.
What they haven’t been given, as the result of a preliminary injunction ordered by Judge Eagles after the suit was filed, is the choice of viewing their own ultrasound or hearing the fetal heartbeat.
Lawyers representing Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, who oppose the law, say its requirement that health care providers show images and describe the ultrasound violates the First Amendment by infringing on their right to free speech.
“The doctor has to show the patient this ultrasound and read a government-written script. So there’s no opportunity for the doctor to use his or her judgment for what is medically appropriate,” argued Chris Brook, the ACLU’s legal director, according to media reports of the Aug. 23 hearing.
But the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said having access to an ultrasound image and description of the baby it reveals is always appropriate, especially when a woman is preparing to make a life or death decision.
“If free speech is the issue, I would argue that the ultrasound image is the only ‘speech’ that unborn child has, the only way he can speak for himself, the only hope he has to avoid an unjust sentence of death,” Dr. Creech said. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that an opportunity to view the ultrasound be offered to the child’s mother.”
N.C. Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) told the media that the lawsuit is more about money than free speech, since abortion providers could lose business if the right-to-view portion of the law were enacted. He estimated half of the women considering abortion would change their minds after seeing their child “sucking her thumb, twiddling her toes, little heart beating at six weeks.”
Supporters of the law also point out that no one would be forced to watch an ultrasound or listen to the description of the baby. Already North Carolina’s Administrative Code requires that ultrasounds be performed prior to abortion. Often women are being billed for the procedure already, but simply not given the chance to view it.
“Let us pray that Judge Eagles makes the right decision in this case so that the Woman’s Right to Know Act can be fully implemented and women can truly get the entire picture before deciding on abortion,” said Dr. Creech.
The judge isn’t expected to announce her ruling for at least several weeks.
One Abortion Clinic in Durham Permanently Closes while another in Asheville Revives
In other abortion related news, one abortion clinic shut down in July for violating more than 20 regulations and creating “an imminent threat to the health and safety of patients,” has reopened, while another that was cited by state health officials has announced its doors will remain closed.
Dr. John Baker surrendered his certificate to operate The Baker Clinic for Women in Durham. The state had closed the facility in July when an inspection showed it failed to ensure quality control in blood banking among other problems.
Meanwhile, FemCare Inc., in Asheville, passed a follow-up inspection after its July 31 closing and is again performing abortions. The clinic had been cited for not having contracts with an anesthetist or pharmacist, and failure to ensure that staff was trained to use a defibrillator and more.
The N.C. Legislature passed stricter health and safety laws for abortion clinics this session, but the new rules haven’t yet gone into effect.