Appeals court refuses to reinstate North Carolina abortion ban :: WRAL.com
Richmond, Virginia – A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that North Carolina’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was unconstitutional, and the court refused to reinstate the ban, which a lower court overturned earlier is two years old.
The 20-week ban was first passed in 1973. It was the year the United States Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade protecting abortion as a constitutional right until a fetus develops enough to live outside the womb, usually between 24 and 28 weeks.
While abortion remains legal in all 50 states, 43 have some form of restriction on the procedure after a fetus has become viable. North Carolina lawmakers supporting the ban have argued that viability can range from 20 to 22 weeks.
Abortion providers challenged the 20-week ban in 2016, shortly after the General Assembly approved several other abortion-related restrictions, such as a 72-hour waiting period for a woman gets an abortion, limits on who can perform an abortion, and a narrower exception for emergency loans under which a woman would be exempt from the 20 week limit.
Previously, the procedure was allowed if there was a “significant risk” to the health of the woman. Lawmakers changed this to only allow it in situations where the mother was at risk of death or severe and irreversible damage due to an urgent medical emergency.
Three doctors said they feared prosecution under the updated law, but state attorneys argued that the doctors had no right to challenge the law because they had failed to do so. subject to no charges or administrative action. No one has been prosecuted for performing an abortion in North Carolina for years, state prosecutors have said.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 4th Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., However, unanimously ruled that lawmakers’ decision to expand abortion restrictions makes it clear that they plan to d ‘to apply the law.
“Amid a wave of similar state actions across the country, North Carolina enacted legislation to restrict the availability of abortions and impose stricter requirements on abortion providers and women seeking abortions,” wrote the judges in their decision. “Given these facts, we cannot reasonably assume that the abortion ban that North Carolina keeps on its books is“ largely symbolic. ”Accordingly, we agree with the district court that the providers have established a credible threat of prosecution and therefore have standing to bring such action. ”
There was no immediate word on whether the state would seek a 4th Circuit court hearing or appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“A patient should be able to make important medical decisions without interference from politicians,” Dr. Katherine Farris, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said in a statement. “When someone has made the decision to have an abortion, they should be able to get one, without facing unnecessary restrictions that force them to delay care or carry a pregnancy to term against their will.”
Federal courts have already struck down other abortion laws passed by North Carolina lawmakers. In 2014, they blocked a 2011 law requiring abortion providers to show and describe an ultrasound to pregnant women.
Meanwhile, abortion clinics, doctors and others filed a lawsuit in state court last September, seeking to overturn five other restrictions on abortion, including the period of abortion. 72 hour wait.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly, however, was not discouraged. The legislature last week passed a ban on abortions following a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome, and a proposal that would require doctors to care for an infant who survived a botched abortion has been approved by the government. Senate.