Free Speech Tag - ACLU of North Carolina http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/Latest.html Mon, 22 May 2017 11:19:18 -0400 en-gb Lake Lure School Board Votes to Reinstate LGBTQ+ and Other Student Clubs http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/lake-lure-school-board-votes-to-reinstate-lgbtq-and-other-student-clubs.html http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/lake-lure-school-board-votes-to-reinstate-lgbtq-and-other-student-clubs.html

LAKE LURE, N.C. – The Board of Directors of Lake Lure Classical Academy voted in a special session last night to lift its ban on student-led clubs. A new policy will require K-8 students, but not high school students, to obtain parental consent to join clubs.

The board had suspended all student-led noncurricular clubs after some community members challenged an LGBTQ+ club that was recently formed to promote tolerance and equality for all students. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) had urged the school to rescind the ban and provide equal treatment to all student-run clubs, including the LGBTQ+ club.

“We commend the board for allowing all student-run clubs to have equal access to school resources,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NCLF. “Federal law requires all students clubs – whether it’s a chess club, Bible study group, or Gay-Straight Alliance – to be treated equally. It’s also important that the new policy allows high school students to exercise their First Amendment right to decide what clubs to join. Students should be free to join LGBTQ+ and Gay-Straight Alliance clubs that seek to create a safe space and promote equality for all students on campus. ”

In a Nov. 18 letter, the ACLU-NCLF explained that the federal Equal Access Act forbids schools from permitting some student groups while barring others. LLCA has a history of allowing noncurricular students organizations, including a campus Christian organization that has met on campus for five years.

Read the ACLU-NCLF’s letter here. 

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Student and Youth Rights Tue, 01 Dec 2015 10:37:51 -0500
North Carolina Asks Supreme Court to Review State’s Coercive Ultrasound Law http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/north-carolina-asks-supreme-court-to-review-state-s-coercive-ultrasound-law.html http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/north-carolina-asks-supreme-court-to-review-state-s-coercive-ultrasound-law.html

WASHINGTON - North Carolina has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a state law that would force women to undergo a narrated ultrasound before receiving an abortion—a measure that has been blocked by both a district court and federal appeals court as unconstitutional.

Yesterday’s filing follows the unanimous decision from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in December 2014 affirming that the law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians by forcing them to deliver politically motivated communications to a patient even over the patient’s objection, declaring that "transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes."

The law was preliminarily blocked in October 2011 following a lawsuit filed on behalf of several North Carolina physicians and medical practices by the Center for Reproductive Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and the firm of O’Melveny & Myers.  The measure was later permanently struck down as unconstitutional by a federal district court in January 2014.

“The only purpose for this intrusive and unconstitutional law is to shame and demean women who have made the very personal, private decision to end a pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “We will continue to take all steps necessary to protect the First Amendment and ensure doctors are never forced to serve as mouthpieces for politicians.”

 “As the court has recognized, a doctor shouldn’t be forced to humiliate a patient just because some politicians disagree with her decision,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “It’s just mean-spirited for a politician to make a woman who has already decided to have an abortion feel bad because he doesn’t like her decision.”

“We all want a woman to have the information and support she needs to make the personal medical decisions that are best for her health and well being—and this cruel law does just the opposite. Politicians are not medical experts, yet politicians have written this law as part of a broader effort to end access to safe, legal abortion,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We are hopeful that the Court will reaffirm that it is unconstitutional for government to interfere in personal medical decisions about abortion that should be left to a woman and her doctor.”

The North Carolina mandatory ultrasound law, passed in 2011 by the General Assembly over the veto of then-Governor Bev Perdue, is one of the most extreme ultrasound laws in the country.  In November 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a similar law from Oklahoma, allowing the ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocking the measure as unconstitutional to stand.

While the law would allow the woman to “avert her eyes” from the ultrasound screen and to “refuse to hear” the explanation of the images, the provider would still be required to place the images in front of her and describe them in detail over her objection. The North Carolina law applies even if a woman does not want to see the ultrasound, and makes no exception for rape, incest, serious health risks or severe fetal anomalies.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217/HR. 448)—a bill that would prohibit states like North Carolina from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care p1roviders that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.​

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Reproductive Rights Tue, 24 Mar 2015 11:38:41 -0400
Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Coercive North Carolina Ultrasound Law http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/federal-appeals-court-strikes-down-coercive-north-carolina-ultrasound-law.html http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/federal-appeals-court-strikes-down-coercive-north-carolina-ultrasound-law.html

RICHMOND, Va. - In a unanimous decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has permanently blocked a 2011 North Carolina law that would force women to undergo a narrated ultrasound before receiving abortion care. Today’s ruling states that "the state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient."

The law—which requires abortion providers to display the ultrasound and describe the images in detail to every woman before performing an abortion, even if the woman objects— was preliminarily blocked in October 2011 following a lawsuit filed on behalf of several North Carolina physicians and medical practicioners by the Center for Reproductive Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and the firm of O’Melveny & Myers.  The measure was later permanently struck down as unconstitutional by a federal district court in January 2014.

North Carolina’s coercive ultrasound law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians by forcing them to deliver politically motivated communications to a patient even over the patient’s objection. Today’s ruling affirms that "transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes."

"This law is about trying to shame a woman out of having an abortion, pure and simple," said Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the ACLU. "Politics don’t belong in the exam room, and a doctor shouldn’t have to humiliate a woman because some politicians disagree with her decision."

"We’re thrilled that the appellate court rejected this unconscionable attempt to intrude on the doctor-patient relationship," said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Exam rooms are no place for propaganda and doctors should never be forced to serve as mouthpieces for politicians who wish to shame and demean women."

"Today’s ruling marks another major victory for women and sends a message to lawmakers across the country: it is unconstitutional for politicians to interfere in a woman’s personal medical decisions about abortion," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Politicians are not medical experts — but politicians have written this law with the ultimate goal of restricting access to safe, legal abortion."

The North Carolina mandatory ultrasound law, which the General Assembly passed in 2011 over the veto of then-Governor Bev Perdue, is one of the most extreme ultrasound laws in the country.  In November 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a similar law from Oklahoma, allowing the ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocking the measure as unconstitutional to stand.

While the law would allow the woman to “avert her eyes” from the ultrasound screen and to "refuse to hear" the explanation of the images, the provider would still be required to place the images in front of her and describe them in detail over her objection. The North Carolina law applies even if a woman does not want to see the ultrasound, and makes no exception for rape, incest, serious health risks or severe fetal anomalies.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit states like North Carolina from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion service.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Reproductive Rights Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:47:00 -0500
North Carolina Doubles Down on Shaming Women Who Seek Abortions http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/north-carolina-doubles-down-on-shaming-women-who-seek-abortions.html http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/blog/north-carolina-doubles-down-on-shaming-women-who-seek-abortions.html
By Andrew Beck, ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project

Another day, another attempt by politicians to shame and humiliate a woman seeking an abortion. Yet again, the government intrusion pushes right into the exam room.

Today the state of North Carolina is asking an appeals court to reinstate a medically unnecessary, intrusive, and mandatory ultrasound law, which a federal judge blocked earlier this year. North Carolina's law would require a physician to show every woman who seeks an abortion an image of the fetus, describing the image in detail during the procedure. The physician has to do this even if the doctor thinks it would be psychologically harmful and even if a woman says she doesn't want to see it or hear it.

In fact, the state's position is that if a woman doesn't want to see the ultrasound screen and hear the detailed description, she should just put on eye blinders and headphones.

If you're thinking that this law has nothing to do with good medical care and is all about punishing and humiliating women, you're spot on. Major medical organizations, like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have made clear that laws like this one are the antithesis of good medical practice.

So if they're not good medicine, why are politicians still determined to pass them?

The state of North Carolina made that crystal clear: to stigmatize abortion. The state all but admitted that the law is designed to shame a woman seeking an abortion and to make the experience more difficult.

North Carolina's position is that a woman seeking an abortion should "be a man about it" and "hear what is not pleasant to hear."

Plus, the state says, even if the doctor or the woman don't think it's necessary to view and describe the ultrasound, the intrusive ultrasound law lets politicians send a woman the message that "her fellow citizens" "are concerned about the potential effects of the decision she is making and think there are certain facts she should know and consider in order to make a mature and informed decision about the choice the law makes available to her."

In other words, North Carolina politicians don't trust a woman to make her own decision. Instead, they want to make sure every woman seeking an abortion gets a special message of disapproval in the exam room.

How insulting—but of course that's the whole point. Let's hope that the appeals court sends these politicians a message instead and pushes politicians out of the exam room, where they certainly don't belong.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Reproductive Rights Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:21:39 -0400