Late on Friday, a federal judge ruled that a North Carolina law requiring women to have an ultrasound and have the image described to them by a doctor before undergoing an abortion is unconstitutional.
The ruling was made by a district judge named Catherine Eagles, who was appointed to the court by Barack Obama in 2010. In her decision, Eagles wrote that the state cannot force doctors to confront a patient with an "ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term."
The law, which was passed by a Republican-powered state legislature in 2011, required abortion providers to put an ultrasound machine next to a patient so she could view it, while also describing what the image showed. Further, the law stated that doctors must detail the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and any visible organs or limbs.
The bill did not require that the patient listen to the doctor, only that the doctor speak. Of course, expecting a pregnant woman who just underwent an ultrasound to immediately up and bolt from the room is entirely unrealistic, but that part of the bill ended up being its undoing. In her decision, Eagles opined that "the state has not established that the speech-and-display provision directly advances a substantial state interest in regulating health care, especially when the state does not require the patient to receive the message and the patient takes steps to avoid receipt of the message."
This is the second time in months that an ultrasound law was struck down by courts. In November, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal made by the state of Oklahoma after a similar law was struck down there.
Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin currently have laws in effect similar to the ones nullified in North Carolina and Oklahoma. Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, and Virginia all mandate ultrasounds prior to abortions, but don't require the doctor to describe the image aloud.
[image via Getty]