Meet Beverly Gray, the Duke OB-GYN challenging North Carolina’s abortion ban

Courtesy of Scholars@Duke
Courtesy of Scholars@Duke

This Duke doctor challenged North Carolina’s 12-week abortion ban, successfully blocking one provision of the law and potentially two more. 

Beverly Gray, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, partnered with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic to file a lawsuit challenging several provisions of the Care for Women, Children and Families Act.

The lawsuit prompted the General Assembly to make several last-minute changes that resolved many of the inconsistencies with the original bill. Before the ban went into effect, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles temporarily blocked one provision of the law that required physicians prescribing medicine for abortions to document the existence of a pregnancy.

On July 24, Gray and PPSA then amended their injunction request to focus on enjoining the enforcement of two components of the law. The request is scheduled to appear before the U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles on Sept. 21.

One of the concerns is regarding the requirement for documentation from doctors using abortion drugs. The other concern is regarding the provision that mandates abortions occurring past 12 weeks to be performed in a hospital. 

Who is Beverly Gray?

Gray spent her childhood growing up on a farm in western North Carolina. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before joining the Peace Corps as a health extension volunteer in Southern Ecuador. Gray later returned to UNC to earn her medical degree. 

After earning her degree, Gray completed her residency at Duke and was then offered a permanent position at the school. She now works as an obstetrician and gynecologist with a focus on complex family planning. 

“I am honored to be a part of women’s lives when they’re going through exciting changes and sometimes sad changes as well, such as miscarriage and pregnancy loss,” she wrote on her website. “I really enjoy getting to know my patients throughout their whole life, whether it’s her first OB-GYN visit to having her first baby to menopause.”

Beyond the procedural 

Gray’s medical pursuits span across more than just work in the hospital. She has been a vocal advocate for reproductive healthcare, fighting for abortion access even before the Dobbs v. Jackson decision in 2022 took away the right to terminate a pregnancy.

In 2016, Gray partnered with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and other medical professionals to challenge the North Carolina law that made abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy illegal. 

The lawsuit succeeded in March 2019, and the right to an abortion past 20 weeks was affirmed by a federal District Court under Roe v. Wade. This decision was further upheld in 2021 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

However, in August 2022, a federal judge lifted the injunction, and the 20-week ban was reinstated. A few months later, Senate Bill 20, the state’s 12-week abortion ban, was introduced in the General Assembly.

This bill placed further restrictions on abortion access for women in the state and passed both chambers within 48 hours. The bill was then met with a veto from Governor Roy Cooper, which was promptly overridden

“It was very frustrating that the voices of the medical community were not heard when this law was being written.” Gray wrote. “I was hopeful that the veto would be upheld, and we could continue to practice evidence based medicine in our state.” 

Now, the pending lawsuit against SB 20 looks to continue Gray’s fight for reproductive health access in the state. Gray hopes that on Sept. 21, Eagles will block the outstanding issues with the law. 

“Our goal is to reduce harm from the bill and bring clarity to contradictory areas of the bill,” Gray wrote.

Audrey Patterson profile
Audrey Patterson | Local and National News Editor

Audrey Patterson is a Trinity sophomore and local and national news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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