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North Carolina doctor who successfully challenged state abortion ban sues over pill restrictions

Teddy Rosenbluth, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in News & Features

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina OB-GYN who successfully challenged the state’s 20-week abortion law is now suing the state over its abortion pills laws.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday morning, Dr. Amy Bryant, a University of North Carolina Health doctor, said the state laws conflict with federal regulations.

Bryant brought a lawsuit in 2016 with several other OB-GYNs that challenged North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban. A federal court deemed the ban unconstitutional in 2019, a ruling that was reversed when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

This case centers around mifepristone, which is the first part of a two-pill regimen that ends a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks of gestation.

For the past several years, the Food and Drug Administration has slowly peeled away restrictions on the medication — allowing health care providers other than doctors to prescribe the medication and retail pharmacies to dispense it.

However, North Carolina state laws place heavier restrictions on the pill, allowing doctors to provide the pill only in person at certified facilities, and after a 72-hour waiting period.

North Carolina’s restrictions, the lawsuit argues, impose significant costs and burdens on Bryant and her patients and prevent her from providing care according to her best medical judgment.

Bryant’s lawsuit asks the Federal District Court to confront the differences between state and federal law and consider whether North Carolina’s laws on the pill are an overstep, as the plaintiff argues.


“Simply put, North Carolina cannot stand in the shoes of FDA to impose restrictions on medication access that FDA determined are not appropriate and that upset the careful balance FDA was directed by Congress to strike,” the lawsuit reads.

Bryant also seeks an injunction that would block the state from enforcing any restrictions or creating any further restrictions on mifepristone that goes beyond federal law.

A spokesperson for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, one of the defendants named in the suit, said his office is reviewing the complaint.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a national anti-abortion lobbyist group, issued a statement about the lawsuit saying, “We stand with the people of North Carolina and West Virginia against the abortion lobby’s reckless push to mandate abortion on demand in every state.”

This lawsuit comes as state Republicans, who won greater majorities in both the state House and Senate in November, debate how they will change North Carolina's abortion laws. It’s still unclear exactly how Republicans intend to change the laws or when they plan to unveil a bill, the News & Observer reported.


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