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RALEIGH – Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of people seeking abortion care in North Carolina, upholding a lower court’s decision to strike down a statewide abortion ban. The law banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in extremely narrow instances of medical emergency. 

“Today’s ruling is an important victory for our patients across North Carolina,” said Jenny Black, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “Abortion remains inaccessible for many North Carolinians, and we will continue to protect and expand access to this essential health care. When people can make decisions about their pregnancies that are best for them, families thrive and we build communities where each of us can participate fully and with dignity. That is the vision that we are fighting for, and the court’s decision today brings us one step closer.”

“A patient should be able to make important medical decisions without interference from politicians,” said Dr. Katherine Farris, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “When someone has made the decision to have an abortion, they should be able to get one, without facing unnecessary restrictions that force them to delay care or carry a pregnancy to term against their will. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic will continue providing the care our patients need when they need it.”

Many barriers can stand in the way of someone getting an abortion, including not being able to afford it, the travel distance to a clinic, the need for child care or time off work, or deliberate and cruel barriers put in place by lawmakers, such as bans on insurance coverage for abortion care.

Today’s result comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to review a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Bans on abortion prior to viability have been unconstitutional since 1973 when the Supreme Court decided the landmark case Roe v. Wade. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Court has agreed to consider whether pre-viability prohibitions on abortion are unconstitutional.

Studies show that people who are denied an abortion experience serious physical and economic consequences. They are more likely to experience subsequent poverty, to have insufficient funds to pay for basic living expenses, to have poorer health, and are more likely to be trapped in violent relationships. After being denied an abortion, a person is three times more likely to be unemployed than a person who was able to obtain abortion care. Abortion bans disproportionately threaten the health, rights, and lives of people of color and people struggling to make ends meet, as they already face additional hurdles to accessing abortion.

The case, Bryant et al. v. Woodall et al., was filed in 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of North Carolina on behalf of various abortion providers in the state and their patients seeking abortions.

The court's decision can be found here: https://oltem1bixlohb0d4busw018c-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/4th-circuit-opinion-nc-20-week.pdf