Democrats: Abortion rulings may be ‘a blessing in disguise’

Analysis on Litigation

Democratic candidates have decried North Carolina’s newly reinstated abortion restrictions after a federal judge allowed a state law banning nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy to go into effect.

But some North Carolina Democrats say the ruling earlier this month — the latest fallout of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision eliminating federal abortion protections — might be the catalyst their party needed to reinvigorate its political prospects in what was shaping up to be a losing year.

“I do think it’s a blessing in disguise for Democrats,” said Morgan Jackson, consultant to powerful North Carolina Democrats like Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein. “It was a horrible policy decision that set back decades and decades of progress for women, but at that same time, it has given Democrats a renewed optimism about this year.”

U.S. District Judge William Osteen ruled Aug. 17 that the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade erased the legal foundation for his 2019 ruling that had placed an injunction on the 1973 state law banning abortions after 20 weeks. Though the law allows leeway for urgent medical emergencies that threaten the patient’s life or “create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment,” it does not grant exceptions for rape or incest.

The judge’s decision comes as North Carolina is preparing to vote this fall on its entire state legislature, two state supreme court races, all 14 U.S. House seats and a high-profile U.S. Senate contest.

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