North Carolina’s new abortion law, The Care for Women, Children, and Families Act (Senate Bill 20), will take effect on July 1st. However, there are a few flies in the ointment. Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit claiming that the law is ambiguous and unconstitutional. And Republican legislators have quickly proposed a bill with amendments to the law, intended to clear up some minor inconsistencies.
On Thursday, June 22nd, Republicans filed a four-page amendment to clarify issues around when the abortion pill can be prescribed, which is different from when surgical abortion is now allowed. The changes were inserted into a much larger bill dealing with Department of Health and Human Services matters. According to a WRAL News report, “Senate Democrats said they support that underlying bill, but they voted against it once the abortion language was added.”
One of the changes is to square medical abortion (via abortion pill) allowed at 10 weeks with surgical abortion allowed at 12 weeks. Despite the fact that the procedures are completely different and require different procedural allowances, this has become one of the issues in the Planned Parenthood case. Medical abortion is fatal to the unborn child, and becomes increasingly more dangerous to the mother after 10 weeks. Even the FDA requirements state 10 weeks as the latest stage for these abortions. But legislators on both sides of the aisle are taking issue with the discrepancy in the limits, and Republicans have filed to allow medical abortion to 12 weeks.
Democrats are claiming that the amendment filed by Republicans to clarify the state’s new abortion rules is an attempt to circumvent the Planned Parenthood lawsuit. Planned Parenthood has asked the presiding judge to block the pending bill while the lawsuit is in progress – this issue will be decided in the court during the last week of June.
Several Republicans have applied to the court as intervenors to defend the new abortion law against Planned Parenthood but the Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, who is supposed to be the lead defendant in the lawsuit, is refusing to stand up for the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, claiming that he “supports women’s reproductive freedoms.”
Read the full text of the Planned Parenthood legal suit below.