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June 15, 2015

Supreme Court rejects North Carolina abortion law

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by the state of North Carolina to revive its law requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound of the fetus performed and described to them.

The high court left in place an appeals court ruling that struck down the 2011 law as unconstitutional because it forced doctors to voice the state's message discouraging abortion.

Under the law, passed by North Carolina's Republican-led legislature, physicians must perform an ultrasound, display the sonogram and describe the fetus to women seeking abortions.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the measure unduly burdened doctors' free speech rights, impinging on the physician-patient relationship.

The ruling by the appellate court in Richmond, Virginia noted that the state clearly intended to "convince women seeking abortions to change their minds or reassess their decisions."

The law came in a wave of state legislation passed in recent years by conservative lawmakers seeking to chip away at the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The push is now moving into the courts, with another U.S. appeals court last week upholding key provisions of an abortion law passed in Texas in 2013 that required clinics to have certain hospital-grade facilities. Critics say the regulatory hurdle was designed to shut down abortion providers.