Last week, a judge permanently struck down a controversial portion of North Carolina’s forced ultrasound law. Now, doctors are no longer required to display and describe ultrasound images to their patients before proceeding with an abortion, since U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles determined that basically amounts to forcing medical professionals to deliver a state-sanctioned anti-choice message.
Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has indicated he doesn’t want to appeal that ruling. “After extensive review, I do not believe costly and drawn out litigation should be continued concerning only one provision that was not upheld by the court,” the governor said in a statement. Several other parts of the law — like provisions requiring women to wait 24 hours before accessing abortion services, and to undergo mandatory “counseling” with information about adoption and child care — remain intact.
But that’s not good enough for some of McCrory’s fellow Republicans, who are pushing to continue the legal fight.
“It’s an important law that saves lives and the ruling should be appealed,” House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), who’s currently seeking a senate seat in North Carolina, tweeted on Saturday. The state’s Senate Leader Phil Berger (R) agrees, and the two lawmakers issued a joint statement on Monday urging for an appeal of Eagles’ recent decision.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has not yet indicated whether the state will seek an appeal. But it might not matter. Last year, the GOP-controlled legislature gave itself the authority to intervene in lawsuits that top lawmakers believe aren’t being handled correctly by the attorney general. Under that new law, Tillis and Berger could step in and make their own decisions about the case.
Spending taxpayer dollars litigating anti-abortion laws is nothing new for Republican lawmakers, even in traditionally fiscally conservative states. In Kansas, for instance, legal fees from defending abortion restrictions just topped $1 million dollars. North Dakota recently sought a $400,000 budget increase to defend the harshest abortion ban in the nation, a price tag that doesn’t faze state lawmakers. “I don’t look at it from the financial side of things; I look at it from the life side of things,” Rep. Bette Grande (R), the sponsor of the abortion ban, explained.
McCrory is likely wary of spending more money on abortion restrictions because he made a campaign promise to avoid spending his time in the governor’s mansion attacking reproductive rights. However, he’s already broken that promise at least once — over the summer, he approved a package of new anti-abortion measures that were attached to an unrelated motorcycle safety bill.