US court overturns ultrasound abortion law

A North Carolina law requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound has been overturned by an appeals court.

The law requires doctors to perform an ultrasound, display the sonogram and describe the baby to women seeking an abortion.

Appeals court judges criticised the law saying it is unconstitutional because it aims to discourage women from having an abortion.

Judge J Harvie Wilkinson III, in a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel, wrote: “The state freely admits that the purpose and anticipated effect… is to convince women seeking abortions to change their minds or reassess their decisions”.

Supreme Court

“The state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient,” the court ruled, and stated that this was a “compelled speech provision” which violates the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

Barbara Holt, president of pro-life group North Carolina Right to Life, expressed hope that the issue would come before the Supreme Court.

She reiterated the need for such a law to give a woman the opportunity “to pause and really take into consideration what decision she’s making”.

She added: “We have a right that trumps free speech, and that’s our unalienable right to life.”

Unborn child

Meanwhile, in Indiana, a bill seeking to outlaw abortion if a provider knows it is sex-related or in cases of genetic mental or physical disability such as Down’s syndrome has been proposed by a state Senator.

Mike Fichter, of Indiana Right to Life, said: “We support the bill, because we don’t believe an unborn child should be discriminated against based on disability or sex”.


In a separate case, an appeals court has been debating abortion laws in North Dakota and Arkansas. Federal judges overturned bills last year which would have seen abortion banned in cases where a heartbeat was detected – which can be as early as six weeks.

Lawyers for the two states are appealing the decisions.

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