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Reproductive Rights

The ACLU works to ensure that the government respects and supports reproductive freedom. We strive to secure a world that respects everyone's right to form intimate relationships and to decided whether and when to have children. 

When Jaimie Cole, a Certified Nursing Assistant, was in her third trimester of pregnancy, she developed high risk of preeclampsia, a common condition involving high-blood pressure that can lead to preterm labor or even death. Her doctor advised her not to do any heavy lifting. Unfortunately, Jaimie’s job, which entailed helping patients in and out of bed and assisting them with bathing and other tasks, regularly required her to do just that.  So Jaimie gave her employer, the Brian Center, a long-term care facility owned by Sava SeniorCare, a doctor’s note and requested a temporary light duty assignment. Instead, she was sent home without pay for the rest of her pregnancy—because, according to her supervisor, pregnant women weren’t eligible for light duty.

As a soon-to-be mother of three and the primary breadwinner in her family, losing her paycheck could not have come at a worse time for Jaimie. She fell behind on her bills and went into credit card debt, was forced to sell her car, and lost approval for a mortgage to buy her house. She couldn’t even afford to furnish a nursery for her new baby.

Jaimie contacted the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, which filed a pregnancy discrimination claim on her behalf. Happily, this week we reached a settlement in her case. Sava has agreed to pay Jaimie back for the time she was forced off the job, and to compensate her for the financial and emotional harms she and her family suffered. Sava has also implemented a new policy for pregnant workers, making sure that in the future they’ll get light duty or other accommodations on the same terms as other employees needing temporary job changes.


By Susanna Birdsong, ACLU-NC Policy Counsel

Today, HB 297—End Marketing/Sale Unborn Children Body Parts passed the House and heads to Governor Pat McCrory's desk.  If the governor signs the bill it will become law.

As you process that bill title, you’re probably asking important questions.  “Is this something that is actually happening?  Why do we need legislation like this?”  The short answer is no, this is not actually happening.  It is against federal law to sell fetal tissue, and there hasn’t been an instance of this law being broken—in North Carolina or any other state—that prompted this bill.  Rather, it is the product of recent attacks on Planned Parenthood, subsequent to the release of a series of videos made by antiabortion activists earlier this year.  Although the makers of the videos claim that they prove Planned Parenthood illegally profits from fetal tissue donation, inquiries in multiple states since the videos’ release have confirmed that this is decidedly not the case.  Despite this, measures have been introduced in Congress and in various state legislatures that aim to use the issue of fetal tissue donation to punish Planned Parenthood and further restrict women’s access to health care.  And sadly, North Carolina is no exception.


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it would not review a ruling striking down North Carolina’s 2011 law that would have forced a woman to undergo a narrated ultrasound before receiving abortion care. The Court’s decision means the law, which had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, cannot go into effect.

“North Carolinians should take comfort in knowing that this intrusive and unconstitutional law, which placed the ideological agenda of politicians above a doctor’s ability to provide a patient with the specific care she needs, will never go into effect,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “We’re very glad the courts have recognized that politicians have no business interfering in personal medical decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor.”

In December 2014, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in December 2014 affirmed that the law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians by forcing them to deliver politically motivated communications to a patient even over the patient’s objection, declaring that “transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes.”


RALEIGH – On Friday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB 465, a bill that will triple the mandatory waiting time for abortion care to 72 hours, making North Carolina only the fifth state in the nation with such a lengthy forced delay. During his 2012 campaign for governor, McCrory vowed to sign no further restrictions on abortion access.

“For the second time, Governor McCrory has broken his promise to sign no new restrictions on abortion access in our state, making it clear that he does not respect a woman’s ability to make her own personal health care decisions,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This shameful law will do nothing to help women in North Carolina. Instead, it will force a woman to endure an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay before receiving the care that she and her doctor have decided is right for her.”

In 2013, McCrory signeda bill that authorized severe and medically unnecessary restrictions on women’s health clinics that provide abortions


RALEIGH –The North Carolina Legislature today passed HB 465 requiring a woman who has decided to have an abortion to delay her abortion by at least 72 hours. North Carolina would be one of only five states to mandate such a lengthy forced delay requirement.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina are calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to veto the bill.

During his 2012 campaign, Gov. McCrory vowed to sign no further restrictions on abortion access in the state.