Do display-and-describe requirements infringe free speech rights of abortion providers?

In a new post for the LLR Lagniappe, the blog of the Louisiana Law Review, my colleague Lauren Tracy discusses the current circuit split on what the government can demand from abortion providers prior to an abortion. In her blog post, “Give It to Me Straight, Doc: Circuits Split on Whether Abortion Requirements Violate Doctors’ Free Speech Rights,” Tracy recounts the December case of Stuart v. Camnitz in which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down part of the North Carolina Woman’s Right to Know Act. This decision created a circuit split among the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Circuits. In Stuart, the Fourth Circuit held that the “display-and-describe” requirement of the Act was unconstitutional.

The stricken portion, the Display of Real-Time View Requirement, required an abortion provider to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion, to display the resulting sonogram so that the woman may view it in real time, to simultaneously describe certain aspects of the sonogram’s contents to her, and to offer her the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.

For more on Stuart and the conflicting cases from the Fifth and Eighth Circuits, read Tracy’s blog post on the Louisiana Law Review Lagniappe.

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in Walker-McGill v. Stuart on June 15, 2015. This means the Supreme Court—at least for this term—will not hear the case and clear up the disagreement on the constitutionality of the display-and-describe requirements.


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