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Planned Parenthood, Doctors Sue Over New NC Abortion Law

Several organizations filed suit Thursday asking a federal judge to overturn North Carolina's new abortion law that takes effect Saturday. It requires women to wait 24 hours for an abortion and be shown an ultrasound of the fetus. Legal challenges have temporarily blocked similar laws in Texas and Oklahoma. More than 20 states have laws involving ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. But North Carolina is only the third to go so far as to require a doctor place the ultrasound monitor in the woman's line of sight and describe the image in detail. Melissa Reed of Planned Parenthood says compelling a patient to listen is insensitive and violates the her constitutional rights. "Her only recourse is to avert her eyes and cover her ears," said Reed in a press conference announcing the lawsuit. "Then after this demeaning experience she will be forced to wait another four hours prior to the procedure." The law makes no exception to the ultrasound requirement - even if the woman is a victim of rape or has a medical emergency that requires an abortion. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and a number of doctors who perform abortions also in their lawsuit that the new law forces physicians to deliver unwanted, government-mandated messages that fall outside accepted medical standards. Current North Carolina regulation already requires women to have an ultrasound and give informed consent before an abortion. A woman can see the image if she asks. Barbara Holt of North Carolina Right to Life says a woman shouldn't have to ask. "Turning the machine so the mother can see the image makes perfect sense if you're talking about true and informed consent, because then the decision whether or not to see the image is totally in her hands and not in the hands of the provider who stands to gain from the procedure," says Holt. The new law was sponsored by Mecklenburg County Representative Ruth Samuelson and vetoed by Governor Bev Perdue. But state lawmakers overrode the veto. Representative Ruth Samuelson says she sponsored the law because women asked her for it. "We're helping to make sure that women have the information they need to make an informed choice and from what we understand women are not always receiving this information, although in other medical procedures they usually do," said Samuelson. Similar ultrasound laws have been placed on hold by judges in Texas and Oklahoma.