Featured photo: Dozens of people gathered to express their rage after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade at the Greensboro rally for reproductive rights in Greensboro N.C., on June 24, 2022. (photo by Juliet Coen)

This story was originally published by NC Newsline, story by Lynn Bonner

A federal judge decided that North Carolina legislators’ bill resolving discrepancies and inconsistencies in the new law restricting abortion adequately addressed many of the problems abortion providers identified in a lawsuit this month.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles on June 30 issued a 14-day freeze on the requirement for ultrasound evidence documenting the location of early pregnancies. Most of the rest of the law that bans most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy went into effect Saturday. 

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a Duke University OB/GYN sued to stop the law from taking effect, at least temporarily.  Eagles said at a Wednesday hearing she would not go that far.  

Starting June 1, abortions after 12-week of pregnancy were limited to victims of rape or incest, cases of “life-limiting fetal anomalies,” or emergencies. 

Eagles put a temporary freeze on the requirement that doctors document with ultrasounds that pregnancies are located in the uterus before prescribing abortion pills.  At the Wednesday hearing, Planned Parenthood lawyer Peter Im said sometimes ultrasounds cannot detect early pregnancies, NC Newsline reported. 

Ellis Boyle, a lawyer for Republican legislative leaders, said ultrasound proof was necessary to make sure abortion pills weren’t given to women with ectopic pregnancies, when fertilized eggs implants outside the uterus. 

It is in the public interest to preserve the status quo on the ultrasound question until all the parties can provide more information, Eagles wrote.

In her order, Eagles said the bill the legislature passed last week, and which Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law on June 29, took care of the following problems with the original law:

  • Makes it clear a legal abortion is not fetal homicide.
  • Says abortion pills can be prescribed through 12 weeks, clearing up a discrepancy. 
  • Says medical emergencies are exempt from the 72-hour waiting period and the 72-hour clock does not restart if the name of the provider is unknown or changes. 
  • Lifts the requirement for providers to tell  patients whether insurance will cover their care. 
  • Lifts the requirement for providers to file complete reports for minors within three days. 

The legislature’s amendments that Republicans said make it clear that it is okay to help people obtain legal, out-of-state abortions corrected enough of the ambiguities and First Amendment issues raised the lawsuit that a temporary restraining order isn’t needed on that question, Eagles wrote. 

One of the issues abortion providers raised in their suit will be handled later, as both sides agreed, because it does not take effect until Oct. 1.

The law provides that abortions performed after 12 weeks must be obtained in hospitals rather than clinics. 

Abortions for victims of rape and incest will remain legal through 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The abortion providers lawsuit says that the hospital requirement “is an irrational limitation on one of the safest medical procedures” and “will further harm the survivors of sexual assault without increasing safety.”

NC Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Rob Schofield for questions: [email protected]. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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