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Photo: Sergio Flores via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed that North Carolina's ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy is unconstitutional and poses threat of prosecution to abortion providers.

Why it matters: The unanimous ruling comes as the U.S. Supreme Court takes on Mississippi's restrictive ban and the constitutionality of "pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions."

The case: After the North Carolina legislature amended the 1973 ban — a measure similar to laws in 15 other states — to limit medical exemptions in 2015, the law was challenged in court.

  • State officials chose not to defend its constitutionality, but argued the suit has no standing because the threat of prosecution is not credible since no abortion providers have been prosecuted under the ban, according to the Washington Post.

What they're saying: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected their argument on Wednesday.

  • Citing "a wave of similar state action across the country" restricting abortion, Judge Diana Motz wrote in the opinion that "we cannot reasonably assume that the abortion ban that North Carolina keeps on its books is 'largely symbolic.'"
  • "As a nation we remain deeply embroiled in debate over the legal status of abortion. While this conversation rages around us, this court cannot say that the threat of prosecution to abortion providers who violate the law is not credible."
  • Motz, a Clinton nominee, was joined by Judges Albert Diaz and Julius Richardson, who were nominated by Obama and Trump, respectively.

The big picture: GOP-led state legislatures have proposed or passed increasingly restrictive abortion bans in an effort to push the conservative-majority Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Go deeper

Florida lawmaker introduces abortion bill modeled after Texas law

A view of the old Florida Capitol building, which sits in front of the current Capitol building, in Tallahassee. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday modeled after Texas' new law prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Similar bills introduced to the Florida legislature have failed, but that was before the Supreme Court declined to block Texas' law, which is the most restrictive abortion law to be enforced since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, according to AP.

Pence says he hopes Supreme Court will overturn abortion rights

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaking in Budapest on Sept. 23. Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he's hopeful the majority-conservative Supreme Court secured during the Trump administration will overturn abortion rights in the United States, according to AP.

Why it matters: Pence made the comments at a biennial forum held in Budapest by conservative leaders concerned about changes in demographics, family values, fertility rates and illegal immigration into Western countries.

Sep 23, 2021 - Health

Newsom signs laws to boost protections for California abortion patients

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during an April news conference. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed two laws that aim to protect the privacy of people seeking reproductive health care and enforce new safeguards against harassment of patients and providers.

Why it matters: The move comes in the wake of Texas' new abortion law, which bars abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and incentivizes people to sue individuals who help a pregnant person violate the ban.

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