A federal judge on Saturday blocked two portions of North Carolina’s new abortion law from taking effect while a lawsuit continues. But nearly all of the restrictions approved by the legislature this year, including a near-ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy, aren’t being specifically challenged and remain intact.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued an order halting enforcement of a provision to require surgical abortions that occur after 12 weeks — those for cases of rape and incest, for example — be performed only in hospitals, not abortion clinics. That limitation would have otherwise taken effect on Sunday.
And in the same preliminary injunction, Eagles extended beyond her temporary decision in June an order preventing enforcement of a rule that doctors must document the existence of a pregnancy within the uterus before prescribing a medication abortion.
Short of successful appeals by Republican legislative leaders defending the laws, the order will remain in effect until a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a physician who performs abortions challenging the sections are resolved. The lawsuit also seeks to have clarified whether medications can be used during the second trimester to induce labor of a fetus that can’t survive outside the uterus.
The litigation doesn’t directly seek to topple the crux of the abortion law enacted in May after GOP legislators overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. North Carolina had a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks before July 1, when the law scaled it back to 12 weeks.
The law, a response to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade, also added new exceptions for abortions through 20 weeks for cases of rape and incest and through 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies. A medical emergency exception also stayed in place.
On medication abortions, which bill sponsors say also are permitted through 12 weeks of pregnancy, the new law says a physician prescribing an abortion-inducing drug must first “document in the woman’s medical chart the ... intrauterine location of the pregnancy.”
Eagles wrote the plaintiffs were likely to be successful on their claim that the law is so vague as to subject abortion providers to claims that they broke the law if they can’t locate an embryo through an ultrasound because the pregnancy is so new.
The union representing screenwriters reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood studios to end a historic strike after nearly five months, raising hopes that a crippling shutdown of movie and television filming could be near an end.
Actors remain on strike, but the deal with writers might help them find a resolution soon as well.
The Writers Guild of America announced the deal Sunday in a joint statement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that represents studios, streaming services and production companies in negotiations. The agreement must be approved by the guild’s board and members before the strike officially ends. That could happen this week.
The pact “was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who joined us on the picket lines for over 146 days,” the guild said in an email to members.
In a longer message from the guild shared by members on social media, the writers were told the strike is not over and no one was to return to work until hearing otherwise, but picketing was to be suspended immediately.
The three-year contract agreement emerged after five marathon days of renewed talks by WGA and AMPTP negotiators, who were joined at times by studio executives. The terms were not immediately announced. The deal to end the last writers strike, in 2008, was approved by more than 90% of union members.
Media and entertainment companies got a small boost from the news. Shares in Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount, Disney and Netflix all rose about 2% or less on Monday.
Freddie O’Connell, a progressive member of Nashville’s metro council, has resoundingly won the race to become the next mayor of the Democratic-leaning city, according to unofficial results.
Results from the Davidson County Election Commission show O’Connell defeated conservative candidate Alice Rolli in Thursday’s runoff election by a wide margin, with all precincts reporting. Candidates in the race do not run with party affiliations.
Since 2015, O’Connell has served on the combined city-county government’s council, representing a district that covers downtown Nashville. He succeeds Mayor John Cooper, who decided not to seek reelection.
O’Connell, whose campaign touted him as the “only truly progressive candidate running for mayor,” said he wants to make the city “more ’ville and less Vegas,” a reference to the “Nashvegas” moniker sometimes used to liken the huge boom in tourism in the city to Las Vegas.
“Every part of this city deserves the public resources that bind neighborhoods and neighbors together — schools, parks and libraries,” O’Connell said in a victory speech. “And when we do that, our interactions with our local government should leave us feeling satisfied that a real person worked to solve our issue.”
Down the ballot, Olivia Hill won an at-large metro council seat to make history as the first transgender candidate to be elected to office in Tennessee, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. Hill’s victory stands in contrast to Tennessee’s Republican leadership in state government, where lawmakers have passed a series of restrictions on the rights of transgender people.
Five former Memphis police officers were charged Tuesday with federal civil rights violations in the beating death of Tyre Nichols as they continue to fight second-degree murder charges in state courts arising from the killing.
Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith were indicted in U.S. District Court in Memphis. The four-count indictment charges them with deprivation of rights under the color of law through excessive force and failure to intervene, and through deliberate indifference; conspiracy to witness tampering; and obstruction of justice through witness tampering.
The charges come nine months after the violent beating during a Jan. 7 traffic stop near Nichols’ Memphis home, in which they punched, kicked and slugged the 29-year-old with a baton as he yelled for his mother. Nichols died at a hospital three days later. The five former officers, all Black like Nichols, have pleaded not guilty to state charges of second-degree murder and other alleged offenses in the case.
“We all heard Mr. Nichols cry out for his mother and say ‘I’m just trying to go home,’” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a video statement after the indictment. “Tyre Nichols should be alive today.”
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz in West Tennessee said at an afternoon news briefing that the state and federal cases are on separate tracks. Ritz declined to predict how quickly they would proceed.
Kristen Clarke, who leads the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division, said at the appearance that the five former officers used excessive force, failed to advise medical personnel about Nichols’ injuries and conspired to cover up their misconduct.
“In our country, no one is above the law,” she said, adding she met earlier Tuesday with Nichols’ mother and stepfather. Caught on police video, the Nichols beating was one in a string of violent encounters between police and Black people that sparked protests and renewed debate about police brutality and police reform in the U.S.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said she was surprised that the federal charges “happened so quickly.” The investigation that led to the indictment was announced in the weeks after the Jan. 7 beating death.