Falk described it as a “grossly invasive procedure” that violates the standards that U.S. Supreme Court has set for how states can limit access to legal abortions.
The ultrasound issue is playing out in the courts. Several states now require women who have an abortion to have an ultrasound. But in two states, North Carolina and Oklahoma, the mandatory ultrasound laws have been challenged in court.
A federal court struck down the Oklahoma law, which would have required transvaginal ultrasounds in some cases, as “blatantly” unconstitutional. North Carolina’s law is on hold, after a federal court issued a temporary injunction.
But a federal appeals court has decided to let Texas’ mandatory ultrasound law remain on the books.
Last year, the Virginia legislature considered a bill that would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds for women having abortions, but pulled back after the state’s conservative Republican governor questioned whether the law was constitutional.
“The courts are split on the issue of mandating ultrasounds,” said Stephanie Toti, senior staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights.
State Rep. Sharon Negele, a freshman Republican from Attica who’s sponsoring the bill in the House, said “it’s premature” to be talking about the whether the bill is constitutional.
“It’s still in the process,” Negele said. “We still have to debate in the House.”
But Falk’s concerns about the constitutionality of the bill in its current form are significant because of his track record: As head lawyer for the ACLU in Indiana, he’s successfully challenged a string of state laws that were popular with legislators but posed constitutional issues. They include legislation that would have allowed police to stop and arrest people they suspected were illegal immigrants and a law that prohibited registered sex offenders from using social networking sites such as Facebook.