The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to strike down a North Carolina law which bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The court rejected the state’s claim that abortion providers were not able to challenge the law.
The case, Bryant et al. v. Woodall et al., was filed in North Carolina federal court. It was filed by both attorneys for the state and Planned Parenthood on behalf of numerous abortion providers and their patients. For almost 50 years, North Carolina has banned abortion after 20 weeks unless there was a medical emergency. These emergencies are considered to be anything that “create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including any psychological or emotional conditions.”
North Carolina is now unable to enforce a state law to tighten the restrictions on abortions. A district court ruled that the ban on abortions after 20 weeks is unconstitutional. “This ruling is a victory for all North Carolinians in line with decades of Supreme Court precedent,” said Genevieve Scott, attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Forcing someone to continue a pregnancy against their will is a violation of their basic humanity, their rights, and their freedom.”
“This decades-old abortion ban took away patients’ fundamental rights for far too long, and we applaud the court’s decision today to keep it from harming more people,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 90% of abortions take place within the first 13 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy.
However, many believe that more must be done to make abortion services more accessible to women throughout the US. “Despite today’s decision, abortion is still inaccessible for millions across the country for no other reason than politicians’ hellbent efforts to put their political goals ahead of the well-being of their constituents,” said Johnson.
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