Federal Court Blocks Provision in S.B. 20 as North Carolina Abortion Providers Prepare for Ban to Go Into Effect

June 30, 2023 1:07 pm

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Today, a federal judge temporarily blocked a provision of North Carolina’s Senate Bill 20, a sweeping law that severely restricts access to abortion and bans care after the 12th week of pregnancy in nearly all circumstances. The judge’s order will remain in place until July 14 and is the final word before the law takes effect tomorrow, July 1.

The order issued today ensures that abortion providers can provide medication abortion to patients at very early stages of their pregnancy. As part of this litigation, plaintiffs and defendants also came to an agreement that people, including health care providers, can help patients obtain legal abortions out of state, and that the provision requiring sexual assault survivors to obtain an abortion in a hospital after 12 weeks of pregnancy does not go into effect until October 1.

This week, in response to abortion providers’ lawsuit highlighting the ways that Senate Bill 20 violates the U.S. Constitution, the General Assembly approved House Bill 190, which clarifies several vague or contradictory provisions in S.B. 20, including allowing medication abortion to be available beyond the 10-week period that the bill had arbitrarily imposed and clarifying that providers cannot be prosecuted for fetal homicide when they provide lawful abortions. As a result of the clarity provided by H.B. 190, many of the claims brought by the abortion provider plaintiffs in their legal challenge are no longer necessary for the court to address, mitigating some of the harm S.B. 20 will have on patients’ lives once in effect.

Statement from Jenny Black, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:

“Starting tomorrow, North Carolinians will no longer be able to access abortion after the 12th week of pregnancy, and they will be forced to endure medically unnecessary restrictions that make it harder to get the health care they need even before 12 weeks. Our legal challenge forced General Assembly leadership to clean up their mess of a bill, but we never should have had to sue to get clarity on how to comply with this law. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic remains committed to providing abortion care to as many people as possible within the unjust and inhumane confines of this abortion ban, and we encourage anyone in need of abortion care to contact us as soon as possible for help navigating this new reality.”

Statement from Dr. Beverly A. Gray, plaintiff and North Carolina physician:

“The court did the right thing in partially blocking this law. However, patients seeking care in North Carolina will still be forced to suffer the life-altering impacts of being denied access to essential health care because of an arbitrary ban on abortion after the 12th week of pregnancy. This suffering is inhumane and contradicts my duty to provide people with the necessary care they need.”

Statement from Kristi Graunke, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina:

“This law is full of unconstitutional inconsistencies and contradictions that would make it even harder for clinicians and people seeking abortion to comply with already stringent and burdensome restrictions. This decision by the court ensures much-needed consistency for North Carolinians seeking abortion care while the case continues forward. We will continue to advocate for reproductive rights in North Carolina in the courts, in the legislature, and in the streets.”

This case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Beverly A. Gray, M.D.

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