North Carolina AG Won’t Defend Abortion Law

( – North Carolina’s Attorney General is at odds with the state’s Republican legislature over laws restricting the dispensation of pregnancy termination drugs.

AG Josh Stein said he won’t defend the state’s law when it comes to a suit filed by doctor Amy Bryant, who writes prescriptions for the abortifacient mifepristone.

North Carolina law allows the drug to be prescribed, but requires doctors to dispense it to patients in person. The law also requires the patient to wait 72 hours after the initial appointment, and also to receive counseling, before receiving the drug.

Bryant’s lawsuit says Congress gave the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the drug, and that this should override state law.

State AG Stein, who is a defendant in Bryant’s lawsuit, agrees. He says federal regulations preempt state laws for mifepristone.

The North Carolina Department of Justice agrees with Stein’s position.

With Stein unwilling to defend the law in court, Republican legislators will have to decide if they want to petition the court to intervene in the case to argue the state’s side. Stein is a Democrat who supports abortion rights and is running for governor in 2024.

Bryant filed suit against the state in January, in the US District Court in Durham. One state over, another suit has been filed on similar grounds in West Virginia. Battles over state laws that restrict the sale or dispensation of abortion-inducing drugs are expected to increase.

After the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe vs Wade decision from 1973, US states again have the right to restrict abortion, including total bans. Abortion proponents inaccurately described the overturning of Roe as taking away what they called a “woman’s right” to abortion.

The SCOTUS decision, however, did not do so. Instead, it returned the right to govern abortions to the individual US states, as had been the case before 1973. The 2022 decision overturning Roe did not itself enact any restrictions on abortion.

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