House passes restrictions on abortion based on sex selection
Posted May 7, 2013
Updated May 8, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Doctors could be sued if they perform an abortion on a woman who sought the procedure because of the sex of her baby under a bill that cleared the House on a 79-40 vote Tuesday.
The measure now goes to the state Senate.
Like all abortion bills, the measure prompted heated debate on the floor.
Sponsors did amend the bill to address one of the primary criticisms raised during a committee hearing. Doctors would no longer have an "affirmative duty" to probe patients on why they were seeking an abortion; they would merely be prohibited from performing the procedure if they happen to find out that gender selection is a factor.
However, opponents still pilloried the measure, saying that it was aimed at scaring doctors who might perform abortions rather than targeting any real problem.
"How many legal abortions are performed in North Carolina based on gender discrimination?" Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, asked bill sponsor Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg.
"Nobody records those sorts of figures, but my contention is, if there's even one, it shouldn't be done," Samuelson said.
Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, said lawmakers passed a major tort reform bill to cut down on lawsuits against doctors. But this measure would allow any number of people, including the child's father and fellow medical providers, to sue.
"Last session, we closed down litigation against doctors. But here, there's a particular kind of doctor the General Assembly doesn't seem to like," Ross said, calling the action "unfair."
Ross also said she believes the bill could lead to racial profiling, pointing to a discussion in the committee about Asian cultures, where the practice is believed to be more common.
Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, said that there were studies that suggested sex-selection abortions were happening in North America.
"Sex selection abortions are happening here in the United States whether we like it or not," she said.