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Judge strikes down North Carolina ultrasound abortion law

By Lateef Mungin and Joe Sutton, CNN
updated 1:38 PM EST, Sun January 19, 2014
The law required pregnant women to get an ultrasound -- and to have the fetus described to them -- before having an abortion.
The law required pregnant women to get an ultrasound -- and to have the fetus described to them -- before having an abortion.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The law required women to get an ultrasound and have the image described to them
  • "Today's court ruling protects the rights of women," an ACLU spokeswoman says
  • Supporters of the law had argued that it would promote childbirth

(CNN) -- A North Carolina law that made women who wanted an abortion get an ultrasound, and then have the image described to them, is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Friday.

"The Supreme Court has never held that a state has the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state's ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term and this court declines to do so today," U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said in her ruling.

The law required abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and place the image in the woman's line of sight. The fetus would then be described in detail, even if the woman asked the provider not to.

Supporters of the law had argued that it would promote childbirth.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that brought the lawsuit praised the judge's decision.

"Today's court ruling protects the rights of women and their doctors from the ideological agenda of extremist lawmakers," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

Oklahoma lost a similar fight in its own effort to require health care providers to perform an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy.

The U.S. Supreme Court in November refused to accept Oklahoma's appeal over the law, which lower state courts had found unconstitutional.

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