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Federal judge declares parts of North Carolina's abortion medication regulations unconstitutional

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Outside the North Carolina Legislative Building fountains and flags are seen on Monday, April 24, 2023.

Portions of North Carolina's regulations on abortion medication were overturned Tuesday in federal court because they unconstitutionally conflicted with the Congress' mandate to create a safe and effective regulatory system under the Food and Drug Administration.

The lawsuit, brought by Dr. Amy Bryant in 2023, argued the state's regulations of mifepristone — the most-used abortion medication — conflicted with FDA standards. Federal judge Catherine Eagles found the parts of the law that prohibit anyone other than a physician from prescribing the drug, require an in-person prescription, mandate a follow-up appointment and require reporting of non-fatal adverse reactions were barriers to Congress' and the FDA's goals. The provision only allowing a physician to prescribe mifepristone had already been removed by regulators.

The decision did not overturn parts of the law requiring an advance, in-person consultation and ultrasound before mifepristone could be prescribed.

The lawsuit particularly called into question the federal Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act, passed by Congress in 2007. That law required the manufacturers of approved drugs — like mifepristone — to submit risk mitigation strategies to the FDA, which led the FDA to reduce restrictions on mifepristone periodically.

But, North Carolina's abortion laws re-implemented some of those removed restrictions. Bryant, the doctor who filed the suit, said those new restrictions served as an obstacle to Congress.

Legislative leaders Tim Moore (R-Cleveland, Rutherford) and Phil Berger (R-Guilford, Rockingham), who intervened in the case, argued a state's traditional authority to legislate for health and safety protected the law. Eagles disagreed.

"The federal court order today is a win for women’s health and shows that unnecessary restrictions in the NC abortion ban have nothing to do with safety & everything to do with Republican politics," Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said in a post on X.

@ethanehorton1

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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Ethan E. Horton

Ethan E. Horton is the 2023-24 city & state editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as a city & state assistant editor and as the 2023 summer managing editor. Ethan is a senior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and political science, with a minor in history.