RICHMOND, Va. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear oral arguments on Wednesday, October 29, over a 2011 North Carolina law that would have required abortion providers to show a woman an ultrasound and describe the images in detail four hours before performing an abortion, even if the woman objects. A federal court struck down key provisions of the law in January; the state is now appealing that ruling.

“These unconstitutional measures would have prevented doctors from using their best medical judgment to provide patients with care based on their specific individual needs,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Politicians have no business intruding into individuals’ private medical decisions.”

WHAT:Oral arguments in appeal of case that struck down demeaning 2011 ultrasound law

WHEN: 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014

WHERE: Lewis F. Powell Jr. Courthouse, 1100 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219


The North Carolina General Assembly passed the law requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and place the image in the woman’s line of sight in July 2011 over the veto of then-Governor Bev Perdue. Under the law, the provider would be required to describe the embryo or fetus in detail and offer the woman the opportunity to hear the “fetal heart tone.” While the law would allow the woman to avert her eyes and “refuse to hear,” the provider would still be required to place the images in front of her and describe them in detail. The measure would make no exceptions for women under any circumstances, including cases of rape, incest, or those who receive a tragic diagnosis during pregnancy.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a constitutional challenge to the law in September 2011, arguing that it violated the rights of health care providers and women seeking abortion care.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles blocked key provisions of the law from going into effect in October 2011. In January 2014, Judge Eagles struck down the law, ruling that it was an unconstitutional violation of doctors’ free speech rights.