Lawsuits challenge abortion restrictions in NC, two other states
Posted November 30, 2016
Greensboro, N.C. — Planned Parenthood and its allies filed lawsuits Wednesday in North Carolina, Missouri and Alaska challenging laws that they view as unconstitutional restrictions on abortion.
The coordinated fight against abortion regulations comes in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas law that required abortion clinics in that state to meet standards for surgical centers and mandated that their doctors have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals.
"We are going to fight back state by state and law by law until every person has the right to pursue the life they want, including the right to decide to end a pregnancy," Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "Individual rights and freedom go to the heart of who we are as a country, including the right to access safe and legal abortion."
The North Carolina lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and three ob-gyns in the Triangle, alleging that a state law that prevents doctors from performing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, except in immediate medical emergencies, violates their patients' rights.
The medical emergency exception went into effect Jan. 1, according to the lawsuit, and the state previously allowed doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks "if there is substantial risk that the continuance of the pregnancy would threaten the life or gravely impair the health of the woman."
The plaintiffs allege that some women have medical conditions that become exacerbated during pregnancy but don't rise to the level of a medical emergency until long after the 20-week mark.
"Forcing a woman who needs medical treatment to wait until her condition deteriorates to the point that it poses a medical emergency is contrary to the standard of care and will expose her to significant health risks," the lawsuit states.
The 20-week limit also restricts the ability of women to seek medical advice and possibly undergo an abortion if prenatal screening shows some anomaly with their fetuses, according to the lawsuit.
"The 20-week ban presents physicians with an untenable choice: face criminal prosecution for providing medical care in accordance with their best medical judgment or refuse to provide the critical care their patients seek," the lawsuit states.
The restrictions being challenged in Missouri are similar to those that the Supreme Court struck down in Texas. The Alaska lawsuit targets restrictions that ban abortion in outpatient health centers after the first trimester of pregnancy, which opponents say forces many women to travel out of state for second-trimester procedures.