The battle over abortion rights continues in North Carolina, where state law now requires doctors to send the ultrasounds of women seeking abortions to state officials. Depending on whom you talk to, this is either a gross intimidation tactic by the state or a necessary practice to verify that clinics are complying with a previously enacted state law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Per The New York Times, doctors who perform abortions at or after the 16-week mark must send North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services “the method used to determine the ‘probable gestational age’ of the fetus, the measurements used to support the assertion and, most controversially, an ultrasound showing the measurements.” The law states that this information is being collected for “statistical purposes only,” and that patients’ and doctors’ names will remain confidential.
But Melissa Reed, the director of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, argues that the law, which went into effect on January 1, is “medically unnecessary and purely politically driven. The true intent of the law is clear—to shame women and intimidate the doctors that care for them.”
Anti-abortion activist Tami L. Fitzgerald, who consulted on the bill with Republicans in the legislature, told the Times that the law should “act as a deterrent to the doctors themselves from lying about gestational age. The state has made a public policy decision that babies after 20 weeks have a right to live. So this law is about protecting the rights of those unborn babies.”
If Fitzgerald has proof that doctors were previously lying to skirt around the 20-week ban, she did not provide it to the Times.
The law, which was approved by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in June, also extends the waiting period for an abortion to 72 hours—the longest in the country.