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Judge blocks 2 provisions in North Carolina’s new abortion law; 12-week near-ban remains in place

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge on Saturday blocked two portions of North Carolina’s new abortion law from taking effect while a lawsuit continues. But nearly all of the restrictions approved by the legislature this year, including a near-ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy, aren’t being specifically challenged and remain intact.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued an order halting enforcement of a provision to require surgical abortions that occur after 12 weeks — those for cases of rape and incest, for example — be performed only in hospitals, not abortion clinics. That limitation would have otherwise taken effect on Sunday.

Lawyers for Republican legislative leaders said in court documents in September that the provision requiring the documentation of an intrauterine pregnancy was designed to ensure the pregnancy was not ectopic, which can be dangerous. And “North Carolina rationally sought to help ensure the safety of women who may require hospitalization for complications from surgical abortions,” a legal brief from the lawmakers read.

State Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, abortion-rights supporter and 2024 candidate for governor, is officially a lawsuit defendant. But lawyers from his office asked Eagles to block the two provisions, largely agreeing with Planned Parenthood’s arguments. Stein said Saturday he was encouraged by Eagles’ ruling.

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