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Federal Court Rules NC Abortion Ban After 20 Weeks Unconstitutional


A federal judge has ruled that North Carolina's ban on abortions after 20 weeks is unconstitutional. 

US District Judge William Osteen in Greensboro struck down the ban which would allow abortions to take place at any point before viability, or when the baby can survive outside the womb. 

His order will officially take effect in 60 days after allowing the state enough time to appeal or craft new abortion regulations. 

In his opinion, Osteen referenced Supreme Court precedent, including Roe v. Wade, to declare the law unconstitutional. 

Osteen wrote, "a state is never allowed to prohibit any swath of pre-viability abortions outright, no matter how strenuously it may believe that such a ban is in the best interests of its citizens or how minimal it may find the burden to women seeking an abortion."

The law in question was challenged by pro-choice activists in 2016 after North Carolina lawmakers added more abortion restrictions. 

Osteen wrote that the regulations "imposed substantial reporting obligations on abortion providers for any abortion performed after sixteen weeks, expanded the universe of medical facilities from which information is collected, restricted the type of doctor who may perform an abortion in the state, and lengthened the informed consent waiting period from 24 to 72 hours," Osteen wrote in his ruling.

The groups that challenged the law, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood, applauded the decision.

Laura Brewer, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina attorney general's office, told Reuters her office was reviewing the decision.

Other states have passed similar laws including Mississippi, which banned abortions after the baby's heartbeat is detected. Utah also enacted a new law that bans abortions after 18 weeks. 

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