@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

House committee approves new version of abortion bill

Posted July 10, 2013

— The state House has responded to a veto threat from Gov. Pat McCrory by slightly altering a suite of abortion restrictions passed by the Senate and dumping them into a new bill.

Members of the House Judiciary B Committee changed the bill to instruct Department of Health and Human Services regulators to write rules "not unduly restricting access" of women seeking abortion, but opponents of the bill say the change does little to alter the substance of the measure.

House leaders were critical of senators, who rewrote a House bill just before the Fourth of July to carry the abortion language, and told reporters this week they would follow a more open process. On Tuesday, they held a public hearing on the Senate measure.

But Wednesday, the House committee took a bill related to motorcycle safety, Senate Bill 353, and attached the abortion language. There was no notice that the abortion-related provisions would be on the calendar. It passed the committee on a 10-5 vote.

"We're late in the session, and this is the way you get things done late in the session sometimes," said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg. "We wanted to make sure that we got this done and didn't leave it hanging."

Lawmakers are trying to wrap up their work for the year this month while still negotiating tax and budget bills.

But Democrats cried foul, saying House leaders were displaying the same disregard for public notice as the Senate did.

Abortion Opponents again cry foul over swift passage of abortion bill

"We're as bad as the Senate is," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham.

"This is a major policy shift, a major constitutional issue, probably the most divisive issue on the social agenda in the state of north Carolina. The process up to this point has been ludicrously not transparent," said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.

Republicans argue that the provisions of the bill have existed in separate pieces of legislation for months. The only thing that's different, they said, is that the measures have been combined under a single bill and attached to an unrelated piece of legislation. 

Under the bill as it now exists, the measure would:

  • Allow any health care provider, not just doctors and nurses, to opt out of participating in abortion procedures. 
  • Prohibit health plans offered on the exchange established under the federal Affordable Care Act from offering coverage for abortion.
  • Prohibit cities and counties from offering coverage for abortions in health plans they offer their employees.
  • Prohibit abortions for the purpose of selecting the sex of a child.
  • Require physicians to be present for the entire abortion procedure, even if the doctor would not be in the room during a comparable medical procedure.
  • Ask the Department of Health and Human Services to write regulations for abortion clinics similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers. Such regulations have required clinics in other states to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in upgrades or close down. Currently, there is only one abortion clinic in the state that meets such standards. 

"It's just another sneak attack. The bill's almost exactly the same," said Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. "It's just clear that they're looking to restrict access to abortion, and they don't care how they do it."

Samuelson told reporters that she and the Governor's Office had negotiated over the bill and that the changes reflected in the House draft resolve McCrory's objections. Representatives for the governor declined to comment on the bill. 

McCrory had threatened to veto the Senate-passed bill unless "changes and clarifications" were made to address issues raised by DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. She told a different House committee on Tuesday that some of the language in the Senate-passed bill was vague and that the state could do more to improve safety by funding more inspectors for health facilities of all sorts.

Samuelson and other lawmakers backing the bill said they made those changes by allowing DHHS to use standards of ambulatory surgical centers rather than require them. Also, the bill language now says the rules should achieve those standards "while not unduly restricting access." 

Democrats said that language merely papered over the intent of the bill.

"This bill tramples on the rights of women for reproductive choice in the state of North Carolina," Glazier said. 

Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said he opposes the new bill, predicting that lawmakers continue to invite lawsuits over abortion restrictions.

"Even with these changes, restricting the health care rights of women is still bad public policy and will ignite more constitutional challenges in court,” Cooper said in a statement.

John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, said the new measure still protects patient safety, and he's optimistic it will pass quickly.

"While we would prefer that abortions did not take place at all in our society, these are positive steps forward to protect the health and well-being of women," Rustin said.

House lawmakers could hear the measure Thursday. It would then have to return to the Senate for a final vote.



275 Comments

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  • healls Jul 11, 2013

    peace2u, you might be interested to learn that 57% of WOMEN consider themselves pro-life according to a recent Gallop poll. Also, one of the sponsors of this bill is a female. It's very inaccurate to assume that only men support this legislation and all women oppose it. I'm a female and I have no problem with it. And there are many, many more like me out there.

  • peace2u Jul 11, 2013

    It's absurd for legislators who can't get pregnant--namely, men--to pass laws telling women what they can or can't do with their bodies in the first place. As Gloria Steinem said many years ago, "If a man could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." And she was right!

  • peace2u Jul 11, 2013

    " I work in the adoption field and there are WAY more waiting families who would love to adopt a child, but can't find one (they're all getting aborted!). They would take a child of any race, any sex, and yes, many of them would even take a disabled child. I talk to them all the time. There is a reason why it costs families 20-30K or more to adopt an infant. There is a shortage!
    healls

  • peace2u Jul 11, 2013

    "Yeah right, at $400 a pop and up for an abortion--later term abortions can cost $2000--they don't have the money to upgrade their facilities to safer standards? And with the way those clinics churn those women in and out like cattle? Sure they don't. "...healls

    This bill has nothing to do with safety and you know it! So, stop with the lies! It's about restricting access!!

  • healls Jul 11, 2013

    "Oh, don't worry. When a woman dies from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, the evil woman will be dead and you can still rejoice over this legislation that killed her."
    madeuce2010

    What the heck are you talking about? And ectopic pregnancy removal is NOT an elective abortion and has ZERO to do with this legislation. That procedure would be done in a hospital, not an abortion clinic. And the self-righteous libs think they're so smart and educated. Good gracious, my head hurts! Zzzzzzzzzzzz

  • healls Jul 11, 2013

    And for some reason the republicans seem to have no problem if those non-abortion services are also no longer available to women either, all in the name of "protecting women's safety". Yeah, right.
    lovelarvae

    Again, people need to get their facts straight. Those who are proposing to defund Planned Parenthood are not taking away thos funds altogether. The other services you mention would still be government subsidized, but the grants and funds would go to clinics who don't offer abortions. Is everyone forgetting that every county in this state also has a public Health Department that offers the same services to anyone who wants/needs them on a sliding fee scale?

  • healls Jul 11, 2013

    "Then you don't believe in facts. Some of these places don't have spare millions lying around to rebuild the entire facility with wider hallways and the other pointless changes required" junkmail

    Yeah right, at $400 a pop and up for an abortion--later term abortions can cost $2000--they don't have the money to upgrade their facilities to safer standards? And with the way those clinics churn those women in and out like cattle? Sure they don't.

  • healls Jul 11, 2013

    "There is a difference between doing something for convenience and doing something to avoid a life of hardship- Which is what many people will face when they have no choice but to carry the child. This includes but is not limited to health complications and being able to afford the child - even if the parents do choose to give the child up for adoption they will still have to pay for caring for the child during pregnancy and hospital bills during the birth." f1115039

    Nobody is ever forced to take care of a baby they don't have the means to support. I work in the adoption field and there are WAY more waiting families who would love to adopt a child, but can't find one (they're all getting aborted!). They would take a child of any race, any sex, and yes, many of them would even take a disabled child. I talk to them all the time. There is a reason why it costs families 20-30K or more to adopt an infant. There is a shortage!

  • healls Jul 11, 2013

    "Driverkid... you're comment is the type of ignorant response most people have about abortion. Tell me, what about those women that get raped, should they not have the choice to have an abortion? Or what about those womens that have life threatening issues with their pregnancy's, should they not have choice to have an abortion to protect their own life?"rk1115

    If you people would actually READ the bill and educate yourselves, you would see that exceptions are made in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother. So much ignorance! If you're going to oppose something, at least get your facts straight. Not to mention, rape and incest account for about 2% of abortions, yet we've abortion 56 MILLION human beings since 1973. I'll leave it to you to figure out the math. Medical science can 99.9% of the time save the mother without killing the child anyway. But heaven forbit that liberals let actual facts get in the way of their selective outrage.

  • bmac813 Jul 11, 2013

    junkmail, first of all Most of our Forefathers who wrote up the Constitution were Christian, and they would never put in that a Women has the right to KILL HER UNBORN BABY. That is how the Liberal democrats TWISTED IT.
    Just Like the WORD ABORTION, it was to HARSH of a Word so they had to Call it CHOICE.
    Just like Homosexuality, Now it a Civil Right, No it is a SPECIAL RIGHT.
    You have to remember that the People who wrote up The Constitution were not Liberals Like the ACLU, People for the American Way, The NAACP, Nancy Pelosi, Barrack Hussein Obama, Joe Biden, The Clintons, The Forefathers were Men Of God, Not of the Devil.

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