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NC Abortion Ultrasound Law Moves Forward

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 29, 2011 6:44 AM

The North Carolina House of Representatives has voted to override the Governor's veto of an abortion law that requires women to wait 24 hours and be shown an ultrasound prior to getting an abortion.

In refusing to sign the North Carolina ultrasound law late last month, Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue cited her belief that it invades a woman's right to privacy and to consent to medical treatment.

While some echoed similar sentiments during this week's House debate, others argued that the law, known as the Abortion-Woman's Right to Know Act, is intended to help women make informed decisions.

While waiting periods have been a longstanding part of abortion law, ultrasound requirements are also nothing new.

As of July 2011, nearly half the states have enacted laws that require physicians to either offer or provide pre-abortion ultrasounds.

In fact, in the last year, the Huffington Post reports that the North Carolina ultrasound law has been accompanied by similar laws passed in Arizona, Florida and Texas, the latter of which is currently in court.

Oklahoma's ultrasound law has similarly been halted by court proceedings.

Unlike 24-hour waiting periods, there is no definitive answer as to whether the North Carolina ultrasound law and others like it are an improper intrusion into a woman's constitutional right to privacy.

In addition to arguing that these laws are an undue burden on abortion access, challengers have claimed that they violate a medical provider's First Amendment rights, and improperly intrude on the doctor-patient relationship.

These arguments have been met with mixed success, so should the state senate gather the 3/5 majority vote needed to override the governor's decision, it's unclear how the North Carolina ultrasound law will fare in court.

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