North Carolina just got a bit less hostile for people seeking an abortion.
As one of the last states in the South that allowed for safe and legal abortions after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the NC Legislature passed the Care for Women, Children and Families Act, which became state law after an override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto in May. It made abortions illegal after 12 weeks except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s health, as well as other provisions that further limited access to reproductive healthcare.
On Saturday, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that, for now, blocks two provisions of the law: One concerns prescriptions for medication-induced abortions, commonly known as the morning after pill. The new law said that doctors must “Document in the woman’s medical chart the probable gestation age and intrauterine location of the pregnancy….” Failure to do so could result in criminal charges, including a Class D felony and a fine of up to $250,000.
“The act does not provide a clear standard by which providers can make this determination, the provision is open to differing interpretations and does not provide reasonable notice of what is prohibited, and providers are subject to arbitrary accusations that they have violated the provision and the the penalties that accompany those accusations,” US District Court Judge Catherine Eagles wrote in the decision.
The other piece concerns the part of the law requiring those seeking exception to the 12-week ban to have the procedure performed in a hospital to protect the mother’s health, rather than in an abortion clinic. In the document, the judge explained that surgical abortion is the same procedure used to manage miscarriages, often performed at Planned Parenthood and other clinics, “and that the risks of those identical procedures are the same whatever their purpose.”
This is what happens when people who are largely ignorant about the basics of reproductive health make laws restricting it. The architects of this bill should be embarrassed about their lack of knowledge. Instead, they’ll likely bounce this back to the courts, hoping to get in front of a judge for whom human biology is as mysterious as it is to them.
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