GREENSBORO, N.C. – Abortion providers who are challenging North Carolina’s unconstitutional law that prevents doctors from providing abortion care to a woman after the twentieth week of pregnancy yesterday asked a federal court for summary judgement in their case.
In their motion, the groups representing the doctors – which include the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood – argue that North Carolina’s law clearly violates a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and must be struck down.
“As a physician, not being able to provide a woman the care she needs because of an arbitrary deadline based on politics, not medicine, is devastating,” said Dr. Elizabeth Deans, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “A woman and her doctor should be the ones making medical decisions throughout her pregnancy. But this law enables politicians to intrude into the patient-physician relationship and prevents doctors from providing our patients with high-quality care when they need it.”
The lawsuit was filed on November 30 on behalf of a group of North Carolina physicians who provide abortion and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. The plaintiffs say that North Carolina’s law unnecessarily and unconstitutionally prevents them from providing needed care to patients, denies women the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, threatens the health and wellbeing of women, prevents some women with fewer resources from accessing treatment at all, and prevents doctors from fulfilling their professional responsibilities and obligations as physicians.
A woman may seek an abortion after the twentieth week of pregnancy for a number of reasons, from delays in finding out she is pregnant, to not being able to afford the procedure, to a lack of doctors who provide abortion care near her, or barriers put in place by politicians, such as bans on abortion coverage.
North Carolina’s law contains only an extremely narrow exception for immediate medical emergencies that puts women’s health at risk. The ban forces physicians caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to delay necessary care until her condition imposes an immediate threat of death or major medical damage. The ban also contains no exceptions for a woman who receives a diagnosis that the fetus will not survive after birth.
The case, Bryant et al. v. Woodall et al., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
This filing and supporting documents can be found below:
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that it is unconstitutional to ban abortion before viability. In 2016, North Carolina amended its law to further narrow health exceptions to the 20-week ban — following a five year period when the state enacted thirteen abortion restrictions. Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. One out of three U.S. women who has reached the age of 45 has had at least one abortion and approximately 61% of women obtaining abortions already have one child or more. These laws — and the extreme agenda they are part of — are deeply unpopular with the public. When Americans understand the real-world impact of 20-week bans, a strong majority of voters oppose them.