RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The state’s law blocking abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy should be allowed to go into effect now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, Republican legislative leaders told a federal judge in a new court filing this week. 

U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen struck down the law in 2019, citing the Roe v. Wade decision at the time.  

In their brief, an attorney representing the Republicans argued that previous decision is “now contrary to law” and that “there is no longer any basis” for keeping the law from going into effect again. 

The law in question bans most abortions after 20 weeks, making exceptions for medical emergencies. 

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Judge Osteen told the parties involved in the original case they could submit briefs to him outlining what steps they think he should take next. 

He also stated in that order on July 8 that “it appears the injunctive relief granted in this case may now be contrary to law.” 

Judge Osteen set a 30-day deadline for lawyers to submit briefs.  

In a statement, the ACLU of North Carolina said, “There are already a number of unreasonable restrictions to abortion access for North Carolinians, such as the 72-hour waiting period and a telemedicine ban for medication abortion. Enforcing a sweeping 20-week ban, which lacks any exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, would only further restrict our rights. While we’re still reviewing the most recent briefing, we believe that there is no basis for stripping an injunction that was properly entered and is protecting the rights and needs of people to access essential health care.” 

Data from the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services shows that abortions occurring after 20 weeks are rare in North Carolina, accounting for 0.2 percent of abortions in 2020. Nearly 70 percent occurred at the eight-week mark or sooner.  

Republicans had called on Atty. Gen. Josh Stein (D) to defend the 20-week ban, but he said last week his office would not do that. 

“What we are seeing in state after state is the restriction on women’s rights to make their own decisions about their bodies, their lives, their futures,” he said at the time. “And, we’re seeing this even in the case of rape and incest, they’re stripping women of these reproductive freedoms. And, my office is not going to further that movement.” 

State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said this week, “I think he really has a duty as an attorney to do his job regardless of what his personal beliefs may be.” 

Republicans are not pursuing any further restrictions on abortion in North Carolina until after this year’s election. Speaker Moore said he remains optimistic his party will win a supermajority of seats in the legislature, which would allow them to easily override any veto Gov. Roy Cooper (D) would issue. 

Moore and other legislative leaders have not said specifically what changes to the law they would seek to implement. 

When asked about his own position, Moore said, “If there’s actually a heartbeat of a child and if there’s a heartbeat, actually look at it from that point.” 

He added he would support exceptions for rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother. 

“We’ll deal with those things next year as we have to,” he said. “You’ve got some people who think abortion ought to be legal up until five minutes before a baby’s born, all right? That’s the most extreme, crazy position. Then, you’ve got those who feel like the most extreme from the very beginning, if you’re even thinking about having sex you can’t have an abortion. I mean, there’s all these extremes.” 

Alison Kiser, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes South Atlantic, said her organization will be “ramping up” its outreach to voters and other activities next month ahead of the November election. 

“The future of reproductive freedom in North Carolina beyond 2022 hangs on the results of this fall’s state elections,” she said.