NC Attorney General reacts to Roe v. Wade decision

Published 3:40 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

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WASHINGTON, DC – In a 6-3 vote today (Friday), the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the constitutional right for women to choose to have an abortion. The ruling now allows lawmakers in individual states to decide how abortion should be legislated.

Currently, 13 states have rules in place where if the U.S. Supreme Court does overturn Roe vs. Wade, it triggers a law that totally ban abortions. North Carolina is not among those states.

In the wake of today’s ruling at the national level, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said women in the state still maintain a legal right to an abortion and it will remain that way unless new state laws are enacted.

Providing a legal analysis, Stein referenced NC General Statute 14-45.1(a): “It shall not be unlawful, during the first 20 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, to advise, procure, or cause a miscarriage or abortion.”

In addition, it states: “It shall not be unlawful, after the twentieth week of a woman’s pregnancy, to advise, procure or cause a miscarriage or abortion when the procedure is performed by a qualified physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina in a hospital licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services, if there is a medical emergency as defined by G.S. 90-21.81(5)” N.C. Gen. Stat § 14-45.1(b).

“Medical emergency” is defined by statute as:

“A condition which, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including any psychological or emotional conditions. For purposes of this definition, no condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which would result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” N.C. Gen. Stat § 90-21.81(5).

Stein noted that Roe v. Wade protected pregnant women against laws that would preclude or unduly restrict access to abortion services until the point of fetal viability.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe, however, does not curtail access to abortions in North Carolina that are expressly permitted by the above-quoted statutes. That protection could only be removed by a change in state law,” he said in a press release.