In 2016, the ACLU and other reproductive rights groups challenged North Carolina’s unconstitutional law that prevented doctors from providing abortion care to a woman after the twentieth week of pregnancy. The state amended the law in 2016 to further restrict the already narrow health exception to extremely limited health emergencies.

The lawsuit argued that the law unnecessarily and unconstitutionally prevented doctors from providing needed care to patients, denied women the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, threatened the health and wellbeing of women, prevented some women with fewer resources from accessing treatment at all, and prevented doctors from fulfilling their professional responsibilities and obligations as physicians.

In March 2019, a federal district court struck down the ban and affirmed that people have a constitutional right to make their own decisions about their pregnancy. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court's decision in 2021. Unfortunately, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization,  which overruled the nearly 50 year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade, the district court vacated its injunction of the 20 week ban and allowed it to take effect.

Date filed

November 29, 2016


U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina