NC Republicans spring surprise changes to the new abortion law following a legal challenge

Published June 22, 2023

By Lynn Bonner

Senate Republicans voted to change the new North Carolina law banning most abortions after 12 weeks following a legal challenge by abortion providers. 

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a Duke University Ob/Gyn sued last week over inconsistencies in the abortion law and a provision they contend may violate the First Amendment. 

The law restricting abortion goes into effect on July 1. Senate Republicans added changes to the law  to a House bill focused on the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

The bill was added to the Senate voting schedule after votes on all other bills on the public agenda and after an extended break. 

Senate Democrats asked Republicans on Thursday whether  the lawsuit prompted the proposed changes, but did not get an answer. However, the changes address several issues the lawsuit raises.  A hearing on the suit is scheduled for Wednesday morning. 

Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Forsyth County Republican, described the changes as  technical and clarifying. 

Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake Democrat, asked for more time to review the amendment, but he was voted down. The amendment deals with physician privileges and informed consent, he said. “We have not had the opportunity to review the bill in full,” he said. 

The Senate took a party-line, preliminary 27-17 vote to pass the bill. The Senate must take another vote before sending the bill back to the House. 

The lawsuit questioned whether medication abortions would be allowed through 12 weeks. One of the changes to the law Republicans voted on deletes wording that implies that abortion pills can only be prescribed up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. 

Another issue the lawsuit raised was the provision making it illegal to “advise, procure, or cause” an abortion contrary to the law. The lawsuit said that prohibiting advice on accessing a legal abortion outside North Carolina is a First Amendment violation. 

Senate Republicans changed the law to take out the word, “advise.” Krawiec said the provision always meant to refer to abortions in the state.

Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) said the changes are technical and clarifying.