A federal judge struck down a North Carolina law Monday that banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Reuters reported.
The law, introduced in 1973, created small exceptions in the case of a medical emergency. A further tightening of the restrictions in 2016 prompted abortion-rights groups to sue.
District Judge William Osteen overturned the ban allowing an abortion to take place at any point before the fetus is viable, or able to potentially live outside the womb, as determined by a doctor.
Osteen argued that any week or month specific ban is unconstitutional.
“A state is never allowed to prohibit any swath of pre-viability abortions outright, no matter how strenuously it may believe that such a ban is in the best interests of its citizens or how minimal it may find the burden to women seeking an abortion,” Osteen wrote, according to Reuters.
The three groups that challenged the ban, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, applauded the decision.
“Today’s decision is a victory for the women and doctors of North Carolina,” Genevieve Scott from CRR wrote in a statement. “This ban is unconstitutional and ignores the unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications pregnant women face. Politicians taking medical options off the table for women at any stage of pregnancy is irrational and dangerous.”
“Important medical decisions throughout different points of a woman’s pregnancy, including whether to have an abortion, must be left to the woman and her doctor – not politicians,” ACLU of North Carolina Senior Staff Attorney Irena Como said.