Legislative leaders: Stein must lift injunction, fully enforce current NC abortion laws

General Assembly - Raleigh - May 2020
N.C. General Assembly as seen from the grounds of the Capitol building. (A.P. Dillon, North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that ended Roe v. Wade, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) sent a letter to Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein calling on him to take the necessary actions to reinstate North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban.

The ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy hasn’t been enforceable since a ruling in Bryant v. Woodall struck down the law because of Roe v. Wade, a statement from the leaders says.

“With the legal underpinning of the Bryant court’s injunction now erased, we respectfully call on you and the Department of Justice to take all necessary legal action to lift the injunction currently barring the full enforcement of our State’s abortion restrictions,” Berger and Moore wrote.

“Attorney General Josh Stein must immediately act to enforce North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban. Any hesitation or dereliction to do so betrays our most vulnerable and is not in the best interest of North Carolinians,” Berger said. “I remain committed to protecting the unborn and upholding the sanctity of life.”

Stein’s office earlier today issued a statement about the current status of abortion in the state. It says that abortions are legal up to 20 weeks and included a call for electing more Democrats in the year’s elections.

“I have a message for the women of North Carolina: you still have a legal right to an abortion in our state. North Carolina state law protects women’s reproductive freedoms, even after the Supreme Court today stripped women of their right to an abortion under the Constitution by overturning Roe v. Wade. If we want to keep our freedoms under state law, then we have to elect state officials who commit to protecting them,” said Stein.

According to state law, abortions are legal through the first 20 weeks, and after that time, a “medical emergency” can also result in a legal abortion.

The “medical emergency is defined as:

“A condition which, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including any psychological or emotional conditions. For purposes of this definition, no condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which would result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

The full letter from Berger and Moore can be read here.