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North Carolina

Summary of Current (and Most Recent) Abortion and Personhood Laws

  • North Carolina law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in the case of medical emergency. N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-44, 14-45, 14-45.1.
  • Current law also criminalizes certain acts causing the death of an unborn child, but provides exceptions for lawful abortion. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-23.1 to -23.7.
  • Current law does not specifically address legal status of embryos, fetuses, or assisted reproductive technology procedures. 

Potential impact of the law on and references to IVF and reproductive medicine if any

  • It does not appear that current abortion restrictions in North Carolina will apply to IVF or other reproductive medicine services outside the context of a pregnancy.
  • There are no explicit references to IVF or reproductive medicine services in current North Carolina laws. 

Relevant definitions

  • The North Carolina criminal statutes define “unborn child” as a “member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-23.1.
  • The North Carolina criminal statutes do not specifically define “abortion,” but makes it a crime if, in violation of the law:
    • “[A]ny person shall willfully administer to any woman, either pregnant or quick with child, or prescribe for any such woman, or advise or procure any such woman to take any medicine, drug or other substance whatever, or shall use or employ any instrument or other means with intent thereby to destroy such child” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-44.
    • “[A]ny person shall administer to any pregnant woman, or prescribe for any such woman, or advise and procure such woman to take any medicine, drug or anything whatsoever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, or to injure or destroy such woman, or shall use any instrument or application for any of the above purposes.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-45.
  • For an abortion to be voluntary and informed, certain information must be provided to the woman seeking an abortion at least 72 hours in advance, except in case of medical emergency. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-21.82.

Penalties for violations of the applicable abortion restrictions

  • Any individual who “advises,” “procures” or “performs” an abortion in violation of the law may be subject to civil and criminal penalties. N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-44, 14-45, 90-21.10, 14-23.2
  • Civil suit for damages and injunctive relief prohibiting provider from performing or inducing further abortions in North Carolina can be brought against providers performing abortion that does not comply with informed consent requirements. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-21.88.

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