More Defend Informed Consent Law
Special Report - November 11, 2011
Two national pro-life groups are seeking to defend North Carolina’s new informed consent law on behalf of a group of North Carolina physicians, post-abortive women, and pregnancy resource centers. On November 8, the Alliance Defense Fund and the Jubilee Campaign’s Law of Life Project filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the recently-enacted Woman’s Right to Know Act. In September, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the Act is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Jubilee Campaign’s General Counsel Samuel B. Casey, an ADF allied attorney, “is lead counsel on behalf of the parties seeking to intervene to defend” the law, according to an ADF press release. Those seeking to join the suit include Dr. John Thorp, an obstetrics and gynecology professor at UNC-Chapel Hill; Dr. Gregory J. Brannon, an obstetrician in Cary, who serves as the medical director for Hand of Hope Pregnancy Center in Fuquay-Varina; and Dr. Martin J. McCaffrey, a UNC-CH professor of pediatrics who counsels women about high-risk pregnancies (with the three doctors filing “on behalf of themselves, individually, as licensed health care providers, and their patients”). Additionally, the Asheville Pregnancy Support Services and the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte are seeking to join the defense of the Act, along with four women, who filed “on behalf of themselves, individually, as mothers, parents and former abortion patients.”
The motion to intervene states that the medical professionals and pregnancy centers “possess a direct and substantial interest as they are committed to providing safe and responsible care to all their patients or clients, including the provision of the voluntary and informed consent they are authorized to certify under § 90-21.82 and § 90-21.88 of the Act for every woman who is considering whether to terminate or carry her pregnancy to term. The Post-Abortive Women are the essence of the Act.” It continues, “While these three groups are the beneficiaries, none are named Defendants and, currently, may not make an appearance in this matter. It is important to note that while the State may assert that it has an interest in protecting all its citizens, including women considering abortions and health providers, the State failed to produce any evidence from any of its citizens at the October 17 hearing.” Earlier this year, ADF and the Jubilee Campaign successfully filed a motion to intervene to defend a similar law in Oklahoma.
In his declaration to the court, Dr. Thorp clearly summarized one of the primary arguments the parties are giving in support of the informed consent law, when he wrote, “Providing for and obtaining a woman’s full, voluntary and informed consent prior to any medical intervention is the standard of care throughout medicine.” He continued, “Informed consent is integral in all medical practice. It respects the patient’s right to know and to be fully informed and thus protects against unwanted medical intervention. It is commonly accepted that informed consent constitutes a process versus an outcome or a signature. The process is enhanced by mutual physician-patient dialogue over time and thereby enhances patient autonomy. Patients have both a right and a duty to be informed. Physicians have a right to convey accurate and objective information and a duty to provide sufficient and material information that a reasonable person would require in order to make a truly informed choice. The Act conforms to this national standard of care.”
In the ADF press release, Mr. Casey stated, “We trust the Court will grant our motion on behalf of the entire pro-life community in North Carolina and all ill-informed ‘victims’ of abortion, including North Carolina’s women, the fathers of their children, their families and health care providers, to defend the constitutionality of North Carolina law requiring a pregnant mother get all the information she needs, providing her the opportunity to see and receive from an abortion provider a clear explanation of the real-time ultrasonic image of her unborn child before she elects to abort her pregnancy.”
The Raleigh News & Observer reports today that the North Carolina Attorney General’s office filed a motion with the court on November 9 asking that the case be dismissed due to the plaintiffs’ lack of “legal standing to sue over the constitutional rights of abortion patients.” The News & Observer went on to summarize the Attorney General’s arguments, including a denial “that the new law’s requirement for a narrated ultrasound amounts to government-mandated, ideological speech. [and] that the lawsuit’s claim that the procedure amounts to an unreasonable intrusion upon women’s expectation of privacy oversimplifies and mischaracterizes what is a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
The case is scheduled to be heard in December.
Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Temporarily Blocked - October 26, 2011
Informed Consent Law Challenged September 30, 2011
Senate Overrides Abortion Bill Veto - July 29, 2011
House Overrides Informed Consent Veto - July 27, 2011
Governor Vetoes Informed Consent - June 28, 2011
Standing for Life as Session Ends - June 18, 2011
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