Federal Judge Halts Two Aspects of North Carolina’s Near-Total Abortion Ban After 12 Weeks, Supporting Advocacy Groups

0
174
Federal Judge
Judge Blocks North Carolina's 12-Week Surgical Abortion Restriction

Judge Blocks North Carolina’s 12-Week Surgical Abortion Restriction, Citing Lack of Medical Basis

Senate Bill 20, titled the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act,” imposes a ban on performing abortions on any licensed doctor after the 12th week of pregnancy. It provides exceptions for instances involving maternal health or life-threatening conditions during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, or up to 24 weeks in cases of “serious harm to a woman’s physical health.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and Physicians for Reproductive Health jointly filed a lawsuit on June 26, challenging the bill before its implementation on July 1, arguing that its restrictions on access to abortion “harm patients and prevent qualified healthcare providers from offering care.”

In a ruling issued this week, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles blocked the enforcement of the provision requiring surgical abortions after 12 weeks under the bill, redirecting them to hospitals instead of abortion clinics. She noted that the plaintiffs had shown “the absence of any rational medical basis” for the state legislature’s mandate, which was set to go into effect on Sunday.

In a human-friendly tone, this means that a judge in North Carolina has put a stop to nearly complete restrictions on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The judge found two main issues with the restrictions: one part was unclear and potentially unconstitutional, and the other lacked solid medical evidence.

Federal Judge
Federal Judge Halts Two Aspects

Senate Bill 20, also known as the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act,” made it illegal for any licensed doctor to perform an abortion after the 12th week of pregnancy, with some exceptions for cases of maternal health or life-threatening situations within the first 20 weeks, or up to 24 weeks in cases where a woman’s physical health is at serious risk.

Advocacy Groups Challenge North Carolina Abortion Law, Federal Judge Blocks Surgical Abortion Restriction

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and Physicians for Reproductive Health challenged this law in court before it could take effect on July 1. They argued that it would harm patients and restrict access to qualified healthcare providers.

Now, a federal judge has ruled that the part of the law requiring surgical abortions after 12 weeks cannot be enforced. Instead, such procedures should take place in hospitals rather than abortion clinics. The judge stated that there was no clear medical basis for this requirement, which was supposed to become law this week. Eagles’ order states that “reliable evidence, including at least one study, supports that surgical abortions after the first three months of pregnancy are safer in hospitals for out-of-state patients.”

Federal Judge
Federal Judge Blocks Surgical Abortion Restriction

The judge also blocked a provision requiring doctors to document the location of the initial abortion instead of prescribing medication abortions with ultrasound evidence. In her injunction, she noted that the provision “fails to provide a clear standard by which providers can determine compliance” and is “vague” for “varied interpretations.” Judge Eagles issued a two-week stay to allow further consideration of this provision in July.

Governor Roy Cooper vetoed most of the abortion restrictions after 12 weeks on July 29, emphasizing that the amendment is “critical to clarifying rules and providing some certainty.” The Republican-controlled legislature also made last-minute changes to the abortion law, adding them to House Bill 190, an unrelated measure focused on the Department of Health and Human Services.

CNN had previously reported that legal filings by attorneys representing the Republican leadership indicated that the amendments were drafted to resolve pending litigation by the abortion providers and parents, which highlighted multiple conflicts and possible constitutional violations in the original abortion law.

Under the law, a doctor can perform an abortion if a doctor certifies that it is necessary to prevent the patient’s death – “not including psychological or emotional conditions.” This provision prevents healthcare providers who object to abortion on “moral, ethical, or religious grounds” from participating in the medical procedures that result in an abortion.

Advocates Applaud Court’s Abortion Ruling; North Carolina Attorney General Backs Judge’s Decision

Advocates celebrated the court’s decision. Plaintiffs who challenged the law praised the judge’s ruling, saying that it “acknowledges that abortion is healthcare and that there is no medical reason to further restrict access to care for more patients.” Planned Parenthood South Atlantic President and CEO Jenny Black stated. The North Carolina ACLU’s Legal Director, Kristi Graunke, said the ruling “takes a step forward in fighting against these harmful restrictions.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but he released a statement supporting the judge’s decision, saying that “women, not politicians, should make these decisions.”

Federal Judge
Federal Judge Blocks Surgical Abortion Restriction

“The law is not based on medical facts, and it was written sloppily,” the statement continued. Eric Baptists, an attorney for the anti-abortion group, defended the law as “common sense” and said that they would “scrutinize all legal options available to protect the rights of unborn children and the welfare of vulnerable mothers.”

In essence, this legal development means that a judge has ruled in favor of keeping abortion options open for out-of-state patients, stating that surgical abortions after the first three months of pregnancy are safer in hospitals. The judge also found fault with a provision requiring specific documentation of the abortion’s location before prescribing medication abortions. This provision lacked clarity and could lead to different interpretations.

Governor Roy Cooper vetoed most of the abortion restrictions after 12 weeks, emphasizing the need for clarity in the rules. The Republican-controlled legislature made last-minute changes to the abortion law, incorporating them into an unrelated bill.

The amendments were seen as an effort to address ongoing legal challenges from abortion providers and parents, which raised concerns about the original abortion law’s constitutionality. Under the law, doctors can perform abortions to prevent a patient’s death but not for psychological or emotional reasons, which ensures that healthcare providers with moral or ethical objections are not compelled to participate in abortion procedures.

Advocates hailed the court’s decision as a victory for women’s healthcare, emphasizing that there was no medical basis for further restricting access to abortion care. The North Carolina Attorney General also supported the judge’s ruling, asserting that decisions about abortion should be made by women, not politicians.

May You Like: Government Shutdown Looms

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here