North Carolina's 20-week abortion ban ruled unconstitutional

(Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images)

A federal judge has overruled a North Carolina law banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.

U.S. District Judge William Osteen's ruling Monday gives state legislators 60 days before the law he declared unconstitutional is voided so that they can amend it or appeal his ruling.

The law was challenged shortly after it passed in 2016. It would have allowed abortions after the 20th week of gestation only if the mother faces a risk of death or serious and irreversible harm from some urgent medical emergency.

The U.S. Supreme Court has protected abortion as a constitutional right until a fetus is developed enough to live outside the mother's womb. The judge noted that the Legislature's own medical expert conceded that's almost never possible until 22 weeks gestation.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood. Here are their statements as follows: 

“Today’s decision is a victory for the women and doctors of North Carolina,” said Genevieve Scott, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This ban is unconstitutional and ignores the unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications pregnant women face. Politicians taking medical options off the table for women at any stage of pregnancy is irrational and dangerous.”

“All decisions about pregnancy, including abortion, are deeply personal and should be decided between a woman and her doctor, without medically-unnecessary interference from politicians,” said Jenny Black, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. "This ruling affirms that right and send a clear message to politicians that women deserve our care, not our judgment.”

“Important medical decisions throughout different points of a woman’s pregnancy, including whether to have an abortion, must be left to the woman and her doctor – not politicians,” said ACLU of North Carolina Senior Staff Attorney Irena Como. “North Carolina’s ban was written by politicians to intimidate doctors and interfere in a woman’s personal medical decisions. We’re glad the court blocked this harmful and restrictive measure while affirming that people have a constitutional right to make their own decisions about their pregnancy.”