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Judge: N.C. abortion ultrasound requirement unconstitutional

Jan. 18, 2014 at 1:58 AM

GREENSBORO, N.C., Jan. 18 (UPI) -- North Carolina's law requiring doctors to show ultrasounds to women seeking abortions violates free speech rights, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said the law compels doctors to deliver an anti-abortion message, the (Raleigh) News & Observer reported. She described the ultrasound requirement as a "one-size-fits-all provision."

The Legislature passed the Women's Right to Know Act in 2011, overriding a veto by Bev Perdue, the Democrat who was then governor. Eagles ruled only on the ultrasound requirement, leaving other parts of the law standing, including a 24-hour waiting period and requirements that doctors must provide patients with information on the risks of abortion.

"This is a terrific victory for women in North Carolina," Paige Johnson of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina said. "What was struck down was forcing a doctor to describe to a woman what she sees. I think anyone who hears that the government is encroaching on that level in a patient-doctor relationship is appalled."

Paul Stam, a Republican and majority leader in the state House, said he hopes there will be an appeal.

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