Three doctors from Durham and Chapel Hill and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic in Raleigh filed a federal lawsuit today seeking to overturn North Carolina’s law criminalizing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Attorneys from the ACLU of North Carolina and the Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America are representing plaintiffs Amy Bryant of Chapel Hill, Beverly Gray and Elizabeth Deans, both of Durham, and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
The 13-page lawsuit, Bryant et al. v. Woodall et al., alleges North Carolina’s law “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally prevents doctors 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.”
There were also two legal challenges to abortion restrictions filed the same day in Alaska and Missouri.
Last year, North Carolina lawmakers amended its abortion law to narrow health exceptions to the 20-week ban, following a five-year period when the state enacted 13 abortion restrictions.
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 the devastating diagnosis that the fetus will not survive after birth. In other cases, financial hurdles, barriers put in place by politicians, lack of a nearby provider, or clinic closures can make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion as soon as she would like.
The following statements were provided in a Wednesday news release:
“A woman must be able to make health decisions at different points in her pregnancy that are best for her circumstances, including whether to end a pregnancy, without interference from politicians,” said Irena Como, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina. “It is just plain wrong to force a woman in need of medical care to travel long distances out of her home state, or to prevent her from receiving that care altogether.”
“At Planned Parenthood, our top priority is ensuring that women have access to the health care they need, including safe, legal abortion.” Jenny Black, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said. “We are fighting for the patients who rely on us for high quality care and will continue to do so until each North Carolinian has the ability to make health care decisions based on the best advice of their expert medical provider.”
“Health care should be based on a woman’s individual circumstances, not dictated by politicians fixated on interfering in her personal, private decisions,” said Genevieve Scott, Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We vow to fight this unconstitutional ban so North Carolina women can get safe, legal, compassionate abortion services.”