A federal judge blocked parts of a North Carolina Fetal Pain law mandating abortion providers to give patients an ultrasound image of their unborn child, describe the fetus’ features and allow women the opportunity to hear the fetus’ heartbeat.
Judge Catherin Eagles struck down the mandate on the eve of its implementation Wednesday, stating in her opinion that state legislators did not adequately explain why the measures would dissuade a patient from seeking an abortion.
Abortion proponents praised Eagles’ decision. Katy Parker, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation, told The Associated Press. “If the ultrasound requirements were put into effect, this law would place doctors in a murky legal situation and inflict unnecessary harm on women."
The North Carolina legislature passed the Fetal Pain law in July, overturning Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto.
Although Eagles, a Barack Obama nominee, struck down some of the law’s toughest provisions, legislators praised her decision to maintain the 24-hour waiting period before a patient can go through with an abortion.
Abortion providers are also required to provide patients information on abortion risks and alternatives. The judge’s ruling adds the Tar Heel State to the long list of states that have adopted pro-life protections this year.
A summer Guttmacher Institute report shows that this year alone, 19 states enacted 162 abortion regulations. Nearly half of all those regulations – 80 in total – offer pro-life protections.
States like Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas passed laws requiring a waiting period, and an explanation of associated risks and alternatives. States such as Nebraska, Alabama and Idaho passed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks.
North Carolina is also among five states that have restricted or eliminated state funding for family planning clinics that provide abortions and or referrals for abortion.
Judge Eagles plans to hold a second hearing further considering state abortion legislation in December.