NC Attorney General has no plans to enforce state’s 20-week abortion ban
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Some North Carolina lawmakers asked Attorney General Josh Stein to begin enforcing a law from the 1970s that would ban women from getting an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of medical emergency.
The request came almost immediately after the US Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, a federal ruling which had previous insured that women had the constitutional right to an abortion, in June. The high court’s decision gave the power to establish abortion rights back to the states.
Earlier this month, Federal Judge William Osteen indicated North Carolina’s 1973 law is unconstitutional, noting “the Supreme Court has clearly advised that a state legislature may never fix viability at a specific week but must instead leave this determination to doctors.”
Pro-choice groups have been encouraged by what the judge has said so far. Even though state law makers said they had no plans to enforce the ban, Judge Osteen said that leaving it on the books could intimidate doctors from providing an abortion after 20 weeks.
On July 8, Osteen asked the Attorney General and state lawmakers to file briefs outlining their position on the issue within 30 days, and indicated if they did not he would proceed as he saw fit.
“The legislature had asked me to inform them of what our office would do. And today, we notified them that the office will not take steps that further restricts women’s reproductive rights. It’s happening all over the country, in state after state, women are losing their right to an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. And my office does not want to be part of that movement,” AG Stein told WECT.
“We’ll see what the court ultimately decides to do. And, you know, we’ll go from there. Whatever the court orders, that’s what will happen for North Carolina. But the really important, the most important thing for your viewers to know is that no matter what happens in federal court, about this one case, state law is crystal clear that women have a lawful right to make their own reproductive decisions concerning abortion, up to 20 weeks, and that right is not going to be infringed upon by anything the federal court does,” Stein added.
In response to the Attorney General’s comments, NC Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger’s office sent WECT the following statement:
“No one should be surprised that Josh Stein is in the abortion-on-demand camp. However, he swore an oath to uphold and enforce North Carolina law, and this is the latest example of his refusal to do his job.”
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