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Bishop Burbidge Expressed Grave Disappointment with Court Ruling

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The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge has expressed his “grave disappointment” with today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles to block a key part of North Carolina’s Woman’s Right to Know Act that was to go into effect Wednesday, October 26, 2011. Judge Eagles issued a temporary injunction on the law’s requirement that a woman be shown an ultrasound of her unborn child.

In her written ruling, Judge Eagles concluded that the law “is likely in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Her ruling prohibited any enforcement or penalties to be imposed during the course of the injunction. She ruled that all other provisions of the Woman’s Right to Know Act can remain in force “at this time.” That includes a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion is scheduled to be performed.

In his statement, Bishop Burbidge said Judge Eagle’s ruling “disregards the dignity of women by preventing her from obtaining the vital information pertaining to her unborn child. I join Catholics throughout the Diocese of Raleigh in calling upon the judiciary to lift the injunction issued today and so respect not only the legislative process of our State, but most importantly, all of the provisions of the Women’s Right to Know Act, which is clearly pro-women and pro-life, providing the time, the respect and the dignity that women need and deserve.”

Diocesan Pro-Life Director Mrs. Jackie Bonk also called Judge Eagles’ ruling disappointing. “In Arizona after a similar law was passed, abortions were reduced by 30% in one year because the ultrasound provides an image of the unborn. This image,” Mrs. Bonk said, “is powerful. When a mother sees her child she has a different reaction then she would when the information regarding the development is described to her.  When she hears the heartbeat (at 22 days) she has the opportunity to experience a maternal connection to a new and unique human life.”

The Woman’s Right to Know Act was passed by both houses of the North Carolina legislature this year and vetoed by Governor Beverly Perdue. Both houses of the General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto to enact the bill into law.

Judge Eagles has scheduled a follow-up court hearing in December, at which time she will take additional arguments.