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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Women’s health groups today filed a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn North Carolina’s unconstitutional law that prevents doctors from providing abortion care to a woman after the twentieth week of pregnancy.

The law criminalizes abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy and contains only the narrowest possible exception for immediate medical emergencies. The ban forces physicians caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to delay necessary care until her condition imposes an immediate threat of death or major medical damage. The ban also contains no exceptions for a woman who receives the devastating diagnosis that the fetus will not survive after birth. In other cases, financial hurdles, barriers put in place by politicians, lack of a nearby provider, or clinic closures can make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion as soon as she would like.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of North Carolina abortion providers who say that North Carolina’s law unnecessarily and unconstitutionally prevents them from providing needed care to patients, denies women the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, threatens the health and wellbeing of women, prevents some women with less resources from accessing treatment at all, and prevents doctors from fulfilling their professional responsibilities and obligations as physicians.

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RALEIGH – Ahead of tomorrow’s election, the ACLU of North Carolina is calling on officials across the state to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot without facing illegal or unnecessary barriers.

“We call on all officials to respect the law and protect the right to vote for all eligible voters, and we condemn any efforts to suppress the vote,” said Karen Anderson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. “We stand ready with many partners across the state to protect North Carolinians’ right to vote on Election Day and fight any barriers to the ballot.”

Voters who have questions or any issues with casting their ballot are encouraged to contact the ACLU of North Carolina or call 1-888-OUR-VOTE.

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RICHMOND, VA – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit announced yesterday that the full court would reconsider a September 2-1 panel decision that allowed the commissioners of Rowan County, North Carolina, to continue their practice of opening meetings with prayers that coerced public participation and overwhelmingly advanced beliefs specific to one religion.

With the grant of en banc review, that panel decision will be vacated, and all 15 judges for the Fourth Circuit will now review a lower court decision that found the commissioners’ practice unconstitutional.

“We’re very pleased that the full Fourth Circuit has agreed to review this practice that is clearly out of step with the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which represents three Rowan County residents in a challenge to the commissioners’ policy. “When people attend meetings of their local government, they should not have to worry about being coerced to participate in a sectarian prayer that goes against their beliefs and being discriminated against by local officials when they don’t.”

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RALEIGH – A legislative report card released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) shows that during its 2015-2016 session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed or considered a wide range of bills that diminished legal rights and civil liberties for many who call North Carolina home, especially LGBTQ people, women, immigrants, victims of police abuse, and criminal defendants.

The report card grades North Carolina House representatives on their votes on six bills introduced in the 2015-2016 session and members of the state Senate on eight. All were opposed by the ACLU-NC because of their negative impact on civil liberties.

Many of those measures were signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory, including laws that

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