RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Anti-abortion groups urged Republican lawmakers to appeal a federal judge’s decision over the weekend that blocks parts of North Carolina’s new abortion law from taking effect.
The order U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles issued Saturday prevents affects two parts of the law, but the restrictions on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy remain in effect.
Judge Eagles determined there was no “rational medical basis” for a provision in the law that requires abortions being performed after 12 weeks to be done in a hospital as opposed to an abortion clinic.
She also blocked a provision that requires doctors to determine and document that a pregnancy has occurred within the uterus before prescribing medication that can end that pregnancy, calling this part of the law vague.
“They are medically unnecessary and vague and nonsense,” said Planned Parenthood South Atlantic spokesperson Molly Rivera of the provisions the judge addressed.
Abortion providers sued the state earlier this year after the Republican-controlled General Assembly enacted the changes nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“We’re disappointed and we think the decision was not well-reasoned. But, 90 percent of this law is still in effect,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition. “The two provisions that have been suspended or enjoined are provisions that help women.”
Rivera said she anticipates a trial to occur next year. Abortion providers are not challenging the part of the law that bans abortions after 12 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest, protecting the mother’s life and life-limiting fetal anomalies.
A spokesperson for Republican Senate leader Phil Berger did not respond to a request for comment regarding whether legislative leaders would appeal the judge’s decision.
While abortion remains legal in North Carolina before 12 weeks, Rivera said the new law’s requirements for in-person visits for patients seeking medication abortions has made it more difficult for those patients.
“Since July 1, abortion has been incredibly difficult to obtain in North Carolina,” she said. “The biggest restriction that is really coming to the forefront for our patients is how the law requires multiple in-person visits.”
Republicans have said previously that they don’t anticipate passing any other bills restricting abortion in the current legislative session. In 2024, all 170 seats in the legislature are on the ballot. The outcome could affect what the legislature does in 2025.
Fitzgerald noted that under the law, nearly 90 percent of abortions are still legal in North Carolina, as those occur before 12 weeks, according to data from the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
“And, so I think to really cut into the number of abortions that are being done, we’re going to have to lower that as much as possible,” Fitzgerald said. “I think we’ll just have to see how the statistics play out over the next two years.”