RALEIGH — In reaction to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson case returning abortion decisions to the states, North Carolina’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein took to Twitter to defend abortion, but also to fundraise off the decision.
“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,” Stein tweeted on June 24. “This is true 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.”
Stein issued a follow-up tweet, asking for political donations in light of the ruling as the “state official committed to protecting reproductive freedoms.”
The comments issued by Stein on Twitter were reiterated in a press release issued on the same day as the ruling and included a “legal analysis” of North Carolina abortion laws that includes a definition of “medical emergency.”
The statute included by Stein reads, “It shall not be unlawful, during the first 20 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, to advise, procure, or cause a miscarriage or abortion.” N.C. Gen. Stat § 14-45.1(a).
Stein also included some additional text, that reads, “It shall not be unlawful, after the twentieth week of a woman’s pregnancy, to advise, procure or cause a miscarriage or abortion when the procedure is performed by a qualified physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina in a hospital licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services, if there is a medical emergency as defined by G.S. 90-21.81(5)” N.C. Gen. Stat § 14-45.1(b).
In a joint press release, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) note that 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.” The lawmakers sent a letter to Stein regarding the matter.
“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,” the Moore and Berger wrote in their letter.
“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 in the press release. “I remain committed to protecting the unborn and upholding the sanctity of life.”
Officials in the offices of both Moore and Berger confirmed to North State Journal that they have yet to receive a reply from Stein on the letter sent to him on June 24 asking him to reinstitute enforcement of the state’s 20-week abortion ban.
A spokesperson for Stein’s office indicated a response to the legislative leaders may come sometime this week.
In his June 24 press release, Stein brings up the Woodall case, stating that the “ruling in Bryant v. Woodall was based on the teachings of Roe v. Wade and its progeny. As a result, the impact of Dobbs on Bryant v. Woodall’s ruling that currently allows for abortions after 20 weeks but before the point of viability will need to be determined.”
The release goes on to say “However, in North Carolina, even with Roe v. Wade overturned, abortions prior to 20 weeks, as well as abortions that are medically necessary, will remain legal unless the General Assembly changes the statutes and the Governor either signs the new provisions into law, or a gubernatorial veto is overridden.”
As of June 27, Stein issued another press release announcing he has joined a “national coalition of attorneys general” in reaffirming a commitment to “protecting access to abortion care.”
“Abortion care is healthcare. Period. We stand together, as our states’ chief law officers, to proudly say that we will not back down in the fight to protect the rights of pregnant people in our states and across the country” the statement reads in part.
The statement by the attorneys general also called the decision a “perilous moment for our nation” that “calls for action.”
According to Stein’s release, 22 attorneys general are part of the joint statement including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.