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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Reproductive Rights
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.

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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

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in favor of closely held corporations that sought an exemption to a federal law requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The owners of the plaintiff companies – Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based craft supply store chain, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania furniture company – cited religious objections to contraception as a reason not to comply with the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union, religious organizations, other civil rights and women’s health groups, business leaders, and members of Congress filed friend-of-the-court briefs arguing that the companies’ owners cannot impose their personal religious beliefs on employees to withhold coverage for health services with which they disagree.

"This is a deeply troubling decision. For the first time, the highest court in the country has said that business owners can use their religious beliefs to deny their employees a benefit that they are guaranteed by law," said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. "Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but that freedom does not include the right to impose beliefs on others. In its ruling today, the Court simply got it wrong."

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RICHMOND, VA – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today ruled that a 2011 North Carolina law that would have allowed the production of a “Choose Life” license plate, but not an alternative plate with a message supporting reproductive freedom, is unconstitutional.

“Issuing a ‘Choose Life’ specialty license plate while refusing to issue a pro-choice specialty license plate constitutes blatant viewpoint discrimination squarely at odds with the First Amendment,” the court ruled in a unanimous 3-0 opinion.  

“Today’s ruling protects the right of North Carolinians of all political beliefs to have equal access to avenues for free speech,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, who argued the case in front of the Fourth Circuit. “As the court reiterated today, the government cannot create an avenue of expression for one side of a contentious political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with the opposite view. North Carolina’s one-sided license plate scheme constituted blatant viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment. We would have made the exact same argument if the situation was reversed, and the state planned on issuing a pro-choice plate while not offering one expressing the opposite point of view.”

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