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North Carolina

Post-Viability Abortion Restriction

North Carolina's post-viability abortion restriction states that no abortion may be provided after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless there is a "substantial risk" that continuance of the pregnancy would threaten the woman's life or "gravely impair" her health.  N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-45.1(b) (Enacted 1967; Last Amended 1997).

NARAL Pro-Choice America supports the legal framework established in Roe v. Wade and does not oppose restrictions on post-viability abortion so long as they contain adequate exceptions to protect the woman's life and health.  NARAL Pro-Choice America opposes North Carolina's post-viability restriction because the health exception is dangerously narrow.  NARAL Pro-Choice America further opposes this law because it is unconstitutional to the extent that it prohibits pre-viability abortion by defining viability at 20 weeks.  A state may not prohibit abortion prior to viability, which is that point at which a fetus is capable of "meaningful life" outside a woman's body.  Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 163 (1973).  Because viability is a point that varies with each pregnancy, states may not declare that it occurs at a particular gestational age.  Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379, 388-89 (1979).


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