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March for Life 2021

Source: The Washington Post / Getty

A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that North Carolina’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks is unconstitutional. A huge blow to the efforts of pro-life supporters on Wednesday afternoon.

The case is one of several currently being worked through the federal court system. All setting up an ultimate challenge to Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has already agreed to hear a major abortion case from Mississippi later this year.

An original ruling by the lower court said the “20-week threshold” would make some “pre-viability abortions” illegal, which would be in violation of the Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Several pro-life organizations and more than a dozen Republican states supported North Carolina in the effort, according to Fox News.

The state argued that abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood who was listed as a plaintiff, did not have standing because the laws weren’t enforced in the past. But the court said there was no evidence abortion providers had actually performed any illegal procedures.

“As a nation we remain deeply embroiled in debate over the legal status of abortion. While this conversation rages around us, this court cannot say that the threat of prosecution to abortion providers who violate the law is not credible,” the ruling read. “Here, where North Carolina’s continued interest in regulating abortion remains vividly apparent… we cannot dismiss the threat of prosecution.”

A victory for pro choice supporters in the state seeking to keep abortion rights permanently intact.

“Today’s ruling is an important victory for our patients across North Carolina,” Planned Parenthood South Atlantic President Jenny Black said in a statement. “Abortion remains inaccessible for many North Carolinians, and we will continue to protect and expand access to this essential health care,” she added.

“When people can make decisions about their pregnancies that are best for them, families thrive and we build communities where each of us can participate fully and with dignity. That is the vision that we are fighting for, and the court’s decision today brings us one step closer.”

Over 500 anti-abortion bills have been introduced by state legislators across the nation, many aimed at “humanizing” the laws in the U.S., according to Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

A majority of pro life groups have focused their efforts on the Mississippi case before the Supreme Court and could lead to a pivotal change to abortion laws in the country. Republicans hope their efforts to chance history will be recognized and adopted by the highest court in the land.