NC Republican legislative leaders want 20-week abortion ban to be restored

Published 5:09 pm Saturday, June 25, 2022

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North Carolina Republican legislative leaders asked Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein on Friday to act so a state law banning nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy can be enforced in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning abortion protections.

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore want Stein and the state Justice Department to seek relief from a 2019 federal court decision that stuck down the 20-week law. The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld last year the decision of District Judge William Osteen, who had based his decisions upon Roe v. Wade and a related 1992 Supreme Court ruling that were struck down Friday.

Osteen extended the right to an abortion until fetal viability, which is generally between 24 and 28 weeks.

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Moore and Berger want Stein to tell them by July 1 what he intends to do. Otherwise, they wrote, “we stand ready to take the necessary steps” to restore the 20-week limit — likely through filing their own request to lift an injunction blocking the law’s enforcement.

Stein spokesperson Nazneen Ahmed declined earlier Friday to comment on what steps the department would take regarding the law, saying it was still reviewing the Supreme Court opinion. Lawyers from Stein’s office have defended the law in court, but Stein recused himself from the appeal because he is an abortion rights supporter. He is still not participating in the case, according to Ahmed.

Abortion is still permitted in North Carolina after Friday’s opinions by the justices.