RALEIGH (AP) – A federal judge blocked Saturday two parts of North Carolina’s new abortion laws from going into effect, while a lawsuit is still ongoing. The restrictions, which include a ban on abortions after 12 weeks, were approved by the state legislature in this year. They are not being challenged, and they remain intact. This restriction would have taken effect on Sunday. That limitation would have otherwise taken effect on Sunday.
And in the same preliminary injunction, Eagles extended beyond her temporary decision in June an order preventing enforcement of a rule that doctors must document the existence of a pregnancy within the uterus before prescribing a medication abortion.
Short of successful appeals by Republican legislative leaders defending the laws, the order will remain in effect until a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a physician who performs abortions challenging the sections are resolved. The lawsuit seeks clarification on whether medication can be used to induce labor in a fetus who cannot survive outside of the uterus during the second-trimester. Roy Cooper’s Veto. A medical emergency exception was also retained. A medical emergency exception also stayed in place.
On medication abortions, which bill sponsors say also are permitted through 12 weeks of pregnancy, the new law says a physician prescribing an abortion-inducing drug must first “document in the woman’s medical chart the … intrauterine location of the pregnancy.”
Eagles wrote the plaintiffs were likely to be successful on their claim that the law is so vague as to subject abortion providers to claims that they broke the law if they can’t locate an embryo through an ultrasound because the pregnancy is so new.
“Providers cannot know if medical abortion is authorized at any point through the twelfth week, as the statute explicitly says, or if the procedure is implicitly banned early in pregnancy,” said Eagles, who was nominated to the bench by then-President Barack Obama.
And Eagles wrote the plaintiffs offered “uncontradicted” evidence that procedures for surgical abortions — also known as procedural abortions — after 12 weeks of pregnancy are the same as those used for managing miscarriages at that time period. Yet women with miscarriages aren’t required to receive those procedures in the hospital, she added.
Republican legislative leaders defending the law in court “have offered no explanation or evidence — that is, no rational basis — for this differing treatment,” Eagles said in her order.
Abortion-rights advocates still opposed to the new 12-week restrictions praised Saturday’s ruling.
“We applaud the court’s decision to block a few of the onerous barriers to essential reproductive health care that have no basis in medicine,” said Dr. Beverly Gray, an OB-GYN and a named plaintiff in the case.
A spokesperson for Senate leader Phil Berger, one of the legislative defendants, said Saturday that Eagles’ order was still being reviewed.
Lawyers for Republican legislative leaders said in court documents in September that the provision requiring the documentation of an intrauterine pregnancy was designed to ensure the pregnancy was not ectopic, which can be dangerous. The lawmakers’ legal brief stated that North Carolina “reasonably sought to ensure the safety of women” who might need hospitalization due to complications after surgical abortions. Lawyers from his office, who largely agreed with Planned Parenthood arguments, asked Eagles to stop the two provisions. Stein expressed his satisfaction with Eagles’ decision on Saturday.