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North Carolina Ban On Abortions After 20 Weeks Struck Down In Federal Court

Haley Kennington
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This week, a North Carolina federal judge declared a ban on abortions 20 weeks or later in pregnancy to be a violation of the constitution.

District Judge William Osteen ruled on Monday that he would give the state time to appeal or put new laws in place before the ban has ended, staying the order to strike North Carolina’s abortion ban for 60 days.

In Osteen’s opinion, he stressed that his ruling “accords universally with those of other federal courts that have considered the constitutionality of twenty-week bans and similar week- or event-specific abortion bans.”

Read District Judge William Osteen’s full opinion here: http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2019/images/03/26/north.carolina.opinion.pdf

Though North Carolina’s decades-old ban was recently modified, several other states are seeking greater limits on abortions around the country, with some states implementing a “heartbeat bill,”which bans abortions after the fetal heartbeat is detected.

Most 20-week+ abortion bans are based, in part, on evidence that unborn babies at this age of gestation DO feel pain.

Close to 1,600 fetal surgeries were performed between 1995 and June 2017 by surgeons at a leading children’s hospital, where preborn babies as young as 18 weeks are treated for different conditions. As a standard practice, the preborn babies are all routinely administered pain medication during the procedures.

The Lozier Institute cites a recent review of the medical evidence concluding that from 15 weeks of gestation onward,  “the fetus is extremely sensitive to painful stimuli, and that this fact should be taken into account when performing invasive medical procedures on the fetus. It is necessary to apply adequate analgesia to prevent the suffering of the fetus.”

The presence of pain sensory mechanisms in fetal development can be established as early as 6 weeks gestation, where the basic human nervous system can be detected. In addition, neurons in the cortical brain (the part responsible for thinking, memory, and other higher functions) of preborn babies are established around the same time.

Attorney Genevieve Scott, who represents The Center for Reproductive Rights, (one of several groups that challenged the ban), referred to Judge Osteen’s decision as a “victory for the women and doctors of North Carolina.”

Scott added,“Politicians taking medical options off the table for women at any stage of pregnancy is irrational and dangerous.”

Communications director for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Laura Brewer told CNN Tuesday that Stein’s office would be “reviewing the decision.”

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