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Health care professionals: States have valid interest in commonsense limits to abortion

ADF files brief on behalf of physician groups that support NC law protecting women, unborn children

Tuesday, Sep 3, 2019
RICHMOND, Va. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on behalf of four non-profit medical organizations that support North Carolina’s law limiting abortion after 20 weeks.

The brief in Bryant v. Woodall represents the views of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, and the American College of Pediatricians.

“Women deserve real healthcare, but abortion poses incredible risks to women’s physical and psychological health,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Burke. “Every abortion carries health risks for the mother, and those risks get more frequent and more severe the later in pregnancy she resorts to abortion. Also, thanks to scientific advances like ultrasound, we know that babies have a heartbeat at six weeks, are fully formed at 12 weeks, and can feel pain in the womb at least by 20 weeks. In light of these realities, and the Supreme Court’s precedent on the subject, North Carolina’s commonsense law limiting abortion after 20 weeks deserves to be upheld.”

The ADF brief explains that a lower court wrongly viewed an unborn child’s “viability” as the only point for asses­sing whether North Carolina’s 20-week abortion limitation was constitutional. The brief argues that this application of the “viability” standard was misguided, in part, because medical advances make it a moving target. The district court also failed to recognize or appreciate that North Carolina has other legitimate reasons to regulate and limit the practice of abortion, including “protecting life, advancing maternal health, and protecting the medical profession from brutal procedures.”

“Advances in genetic science have undermined one of Roe v. Wade’s core assumptions, namely, that a pre-born child is not yet human,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, vice president of the ADF Center for Life. “North Carolina’s commonsense law protects an unborn baby who can feel pain from the brutality of a dismemberment abortion and protects the child’s mother from the physical and psychological complications of a late-term abortion.”

The brief explains that a state’s legitimate interests in regulating and limiting abortion “include using the State’s voice and regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the ‘life of the unborn’ and protecting the health of women from ‘the outset of [] pregnancy….’ North Carolina also has significant interest in regulating a ‘brutal and inhumane procedure’ to avoid ‘coarsen[ing] society to the humanity of not only newborns, but all vulnerable and innocent human life’ and in protecting the integrity of the medical profession….”
  • Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TAIR’-ee-oh)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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