Amy Bryant, M.D., M.S.C.R., et al. vs. Jim Woodall, et al.


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(REVISED 8.25.2020) This case is a challenge to a North Carolina ban on abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, which was recently amended to further restrict the already narrow health exception to extremely limited health emergencies.

This lawsuit was one of three simultaneous new challenges filed on the same day by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU to challenge medically unnecessary abortion restrictions in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina. Following the United States Supreme Court's landmark decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the Center's lawsuit which struck down two Texas laws that devastated access to abortion in the state, abortion restrictions have been blocked in states around the country.

This new wave of litigation will continue to protect and expand access to abortion. 

“Today’s filing is a major step in the fight to ensure all women can get safe and legal abortions in their own communities, when they need them,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “We are a nation of laws, and the Center is prepared to use the full force of the law to ensure women’s fundamental rights are protected and respected.  We are proud to stand with our partners in challenging these unconstitutional measures and vow to continue the fight for women’s health, equality, and dignity”

Plaintiffs: Amy Bryant, M.D., M.S.C.R., Beverly Gray, M.D., Elizabeth Deans, M.D., Planned Parenthood South Atlantic

Center Attorney(s): Julie Rikelman, Genevieve Scott, and Caroline Sacerdote

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Andrew Beck, ACLU Foundation, Christopher Brook, ACLU of North Carolina, Carrie Y. Flaxman &, Maithreyi Ratakonda, Planned Parenthood Federation of America


The Center for Reproductive Rights — along with the ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America — filed a lawsuit on November 30, 2016 in federal court challenging a ban on abortion in North Carolina after 20 weeks of pregnancy, as measured from the woman's last menstrual period ("LMP"). The longstanding ban was amended in January 2016 to make an already narrow health exception even narrower, only permitting abortion afte 20 weeks in extremely limited medical emergencies, and constitutes an unconstitutional ban on previability abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Following discovery, we filed a request that the law be permanently enjoined with the trial court on October 30, 2017.  On March 25, 2019, the district court ruled in our favor and permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the 20-week ban before viability.  The State has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.