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Reproductive Rights

The ACLU works to ensure that the government respects and supports reproductive freedom. We strive to secure a world that respects everyone's right to form intimate relationships and to decided whether and when to have children. 

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Abortion providers who are challenging North Carolina’s unconstitutional law that prevents doctors from providing abortion care to a woman after the twentieth week of pregnancy yesterday asked a federal court for summary judgement in their case.

In their motion, the groups representing the doctors – which include the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood – argue that North Carolina’s law clearly violates a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and must be struck down.

“As a physician, not being able to provide a woman the care she needs because of an arbitrary deadline based on politics, not medicine, is devastating,” said Dr. Elizabeth Deans, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “A woman and her doctor should be the ones making medical decisions throughout her pregnancy. But this law enables politicians to intrude into the patient-physician relationship and prevents doctors from providing our patients with high-quality care when they need it.”

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Women’s health groups today filed a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn North Carolina’s unconstitutional law that prevents doctors from providing abortion care to a woman after the twentieth week of pregnancy.

The law criminalizes abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy and contains only the narrowest possible exception for immediate medical emergencies. The ban forces physicians caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to delay necessary care until her condition imposes an immediate threat of death or major medical damage. The ban also contains no exceptions for a woman who receives the devastating diagnosis that the fetus will not survive after birth. In other cases, financial hurdles, barriers put in place by politicians, lack of a nearby provider, or clinic closures can make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion as soon as she would like.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of North Carolina abortion providers who say that North Carolina’s law unnecessarily and unconstitutionally prevents them from providing needed care to patients, denies women the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, threatens the health and wellbeing of women, prevents some women with less resources from accessing treatment at all, and prevents doctors from fulfilling their professional responsibilities and obligations as physicians.

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WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that imposed medically unnecessary regulations on doctors and facilities that provide abortions. The court’s ruling will have a nationwide impact.

“The nation’s highest court has affirmed that a woman has a constitutional right to have an abortion, no matter where she lives, and not just in theory, but in reality,” said Sarah Preston, Policy Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This ruling sends a powerful message to Governor McCrory and North Carolina lawmakers that they cannot enact needless barriers that interfere with a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. We will continue to work to ensure that every woman in North Carolina – regardless of where they live or their economic status – has the right to make decisions about when and whether to parent and to access abortion with the compassion, respect, and dignity that they deserve.”

In North Carolina and across the country, a woman's right to access safe and legal abortion has been under unprecedented attack. But last year, one of the more intrusive assaults on reproductive freedom was defeated once and for all in North Carolina, thanks to a group of abortion providers who volunteered to serve as plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and other groups.

In recognition of their efforts, we are proud to honor the plaintiffs in Stuart et al. v. Camnitz with the 2016 ACLU-NC Award for extraordinary contributions to the fight for civil liberties in North Carolina.

Join us as we honor these courageous medical professionals at the 2016 Liberty Awards Dinner in Chapel Hill on Saturday, April 2.

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When Jaimie Cole, a Certified Nursing Assistant, was in her third trimester of pregnancy, she developed high risk of preeclampsia, a common condition involving high-blood pressure that can lead to preterm labor or even death. Her doctor advised her not to do any heavy lifting. Unfortunately, Jaimie’s job, which entailed helping patients in and out of bed and assisting them with bathing and other tasks, regularly required her to do just that.  So Jaimie gave her employer, the Brian Center, a long-term care facility owned by Sava SeniorCare, a doctor’s note and requested a temporary light duty assignment. Instead, she was sent home without pay for the rest of her pregnancy—because, according to her supervisor, pregnant women weren’t eligible for light duty.

As a soon-to-be mother of three and the primary breadwinner in her family, losing her paycheck could not have come at a worse time for Jaimie. She fell behind on her bills and went into credit card debt, was forced to sell her car, and lost approval for a mortgage to buy her house. She couldn’t even afford to furnish a nursery for her new baby.

Jaimie contacted the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, which filed a pregnancy discrimination claim on her behalf. Happily, this week we reached a settlement in her case. Sava has agreed to pay Jaimie back for the time she was forced off the job, and to compensate her for the financial and emotional harms she and her family suffered. Sava has also implemented a new policy for pregnant workers, making sure that in the future they’ll get light duty or other accommodations on the same terms as other employees needing temporary job changes.

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