Reuters news service is reporting that a federal judge ruled Tuesday that certain aspects of a new North Carolina pro-life law could not be implemented. The specific provisions of the law which have been blocked (following lawsuits filed by several abortion providers) include the requirement that abortion providers perform an ultrasound at least 4 hours before the abortion, as well as describe to the mother the image on the screen. Also stricken from the law was the provision requiring abortion providers to offer mothers the opportunity to listen to the heartbeat of their unborn child.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ruled that those challenging the law— including Planned Parenthood Health Systems— had demonstrated that they were likely to prove that the provision violated their constitutional rights. The abortion providers objecting claimed that the ultrasound requirements would force them to deliver a state message discouraging abortion against their will.
The law was set to be implemented yesterday. Fortunately, much of the law remains in-tact including the required 24 hour waiting period. Attorneys for the state’s Attorney General’s office are reviewing the ruling.
This decision is a disappointment, especially considering that these laws seek to help women be as fully informed as possible as they find themselves about to make an irreversible and life changing decision. Pro-abortion advocates frequently say that we need to trust women to make the right decisions for themselves. Their opposition to this law seems slightly hypocritical as it would enable women to make the right decisions for themselves once they have all the facts about abortion. However, even in this case there is a glimmer of hope. Firstly, much of the law remains in place and every small step to protect life is a step in the right direction.
Secondly, this demonstrates the enormous power of the ultrasound and the fetal heartbeat. The image of the unborn child and the sound of his or her heart both stand as powerful testimonies that the unborn child is a precious human life. They speak volumes where words might otherwise fail. For that reason, pro-abortion advocates are terrified to make them available— terrified people will recognize the humanity of the unborn child. During the Protect Life Act debate several weeks ago, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) objected to laws that require “doctor to talk first to a woman seeking an abortion and to allow or force them both to listen to, uh, sounds that, uh, might discourage this needed action.” She was unable to even say the word “heartbeat”.
Because of the power of the ultrasound and the heartbeat, we need to ensure that the images and heartbeats of the unborn are seen and heard as much as possible— especially by their mothers.