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Judge Blocks Two Provisions of NC’s “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act”

wooden judge's gavel

On Saturday, September 30, a federal judge blocked two provisions of North Carolina’s new pro-life bill, SB 20—Care for Women, Children and Families Act. This bill implemented a host of pro-life and pro-family measures, which included prohibiting most abortions after 12 weeks—down from 20 weeks—and providing millions of dollars for family support.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, the ACLU, and a North Carolina abortionist, filed a suit in late June 2023 to block the new law from taking effect. They argued that the new abortion restrictions, “harm patients and impede health care professionals from providing care.” 

While the plaintiffs challenged the entire bill, Judge Catherine Eagles blocked just two of the new provisions which were scheduled to go into effect on Sunday, October 1, leaving the majority of the 46-page bill intact. 

In her order, Judge Eagles agreed with the plaintiffs that the state legislature lacked medical evidence to support the requirement that surgical abortions after 12 weeks be performed exclusively in a hospital. (The new law allows abortions up to 20 weeks in cases of rape and incest, up to 24 weeks if the unborn child has what the bill defines as a “life-limiting anomaly,” and at any gestational age if the mother’s life is at risk.) The ruling states that the hospital mandate for these cases lacks “any rational medical basis” and is “likely to be found unconstitutional”- and must be enjoined.

Judge Eagles also blocked a requirement for an ultrasound to confirm an intrauterine pregnancy prior to a chemical abortion- saying there was a “compelling argument that the provision is unconstitutionally vague.” Chemical abortions use a two-drug regimen which lead to the death and expulsion of the unborn child. Unlike a surgical abortion where a woman is with a medical provider and nursing staff during the procedure, chemical abortions only require that the first medication be taken in the presence of the doctor, while the actual abortion will happen days later without any medical staff present. 

Proponents of the pro-life bill recognize the importance of both of these provisions for the health and safety of the pregnant woman. Being in a hospital for an abortion provides the woman with emergency services, blood products, Operating Room suites and rooms for admitted patients in the event of a surgical abortion crisis. Confirmation of an intrauterine pregnancy is critical before a chemical abortion to verify that the pregnancy is not ectopic- a potentially life-threatening event. And, because the cramping and bleeding associated with a chemical abortion is similar to the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, it is imperative to rule out an ectopic pregnancy before proceeding with a chemical abortion.

NC Family will continue to follow the new pro-life legislation as it makes its way through the courts, and keep you updated along the way. Thank you for your prayers for God’s wisdom and strength for the leaders and attorneys who are defending the law, for the judges who will be hearing the appeal of this decision, and for and everyone who is striving for a state and nation that values each and every life.


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