Planned Parenthood asks court to delay implementation of NC's new abortion ban for 2 weeks

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Planned Parenthood asks court to delay start of new NC abortion ban
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Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion for a temporary restraining order over the law

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina's new abortion ban is facing its first legal challenge just days before it goes into effect.

Planned Parenthood and the other plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order over the law, which includes a ban on many abortions after 12-weeks of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood said there was a "failure to give adequate notice" and warned that the law going into effect on July 1 as planned could result in unintended compliance problems. For example, doctors are worried they could inadvertently break the law and have their license revoked.

The group said "there is chaos and havoc (health care) providers are facing in this ever-changing landscape."

The attorney representing Senate Leader Phil Berger and the state legislature said health care providers have had about two months to figure out how the law will impact their practice.

"It should not be terribly difficult to make these changes," the attorney said.

However, doctors said they have not yet even been given the newly required DHHS form that must be filled out for a doctor to perform an abortion. DHHS declined to comment after court Wednesday.

"This is a 48-page law that is extraordinarily confusing, as written. even the best of circumstances, it is a huge upset to the way that we have understood this law to work for years and years and years," ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Kristi Graunke said.

In addition, the North Carolina General Assembly just passed some last-minute amendments to the new abortion law this week. The amendments were a response by the GOP to the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.

Republican leadership called the amendments technical in nature.

"The bill is to clarify some issues that have been brought up in connection with Senate Bill 20," said Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. Senate Bill 20 is the abortion ban bill; the amendments passed this week as an addition to the ban are House Bill 190.

Critics said it was more proof that Republicans rammed the bill through as quickly as possible as soon as they flipped a Democratic lawmaker to the GOP and could override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto.

"These amendments demonstrate the fact that this bill was rushed through, it was sloppily drafted. Now they're having to go back and make clarifying changes based off of our lawsuit, which to me, they're working to undermine our lawsuit. But we will have our day in court," said Jillian Riley, Planned Parenthood Director of Public Affairs.

The federal judge hearing the case in Greensboro alluded that she would not make a decision Wednesday. She said she expected her decision to come later this week, perhaps Friday morning.

Both sides have until 4 p.m. Thursday to submit additional paperwork, if they want to be heard on an issue. The judge already has a 2.5 page order drafted; she said she plans to edit that order based on her decision.

The judge's decision could impact part or all of the abortion bill, at least temporarily.