Raleigh, N.C. — Lawmakers sent Gov. Pat McCrory a bill Monday that would ban the sale of fetal tissue in North Carolina, following a 79-29 House vote.
The measure, which passed the Senate last week, also prohibits state agencies from contracting for pregnancy prevention services with any organization that provides abortion, a move clearly aimed at Planned Parenthood.
Opponents of the bill, mainly Democrats, said on the floor of the House that they don't object to banning the sale of body parts but pointed out the provision came as a reaction to controversial videos whose veracity has been questioned. Planned Parenthood has said none of its North Carolina clinics deal with donated fetal tissue.
"If they don't do it, it shouldn't be a problem," Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, said in response to her Democratic colleagues.
Others focused on the fact that a section of the bill would pull funding out of Planned Parenthood's teen pregnancy prevention efforts.
"I guarantee this bill would have passed in two minutes if it didn't have Section 3 in there," Rep. Nathan Baskerville, D-Vance, said.
But Baskerville said the funding issue drew his opposition.
While the funding issue, which could redirect how tens of thousands of dollars are spent, may have the more direct impact, it was the fetal tissue ban, its potential complications for research and members' moral objection to abortion that took center stage during the debate.
"The very idea that Planned Parenthood ... would want to reduce the number of abortions is ludicrous," said Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, adding that he believes the nonprofit would "give out contraceptives that don't work" in order to increase the number of abortions done.
"We are extremely disappointed in the legislature's passage of this bill. It is nothing more than a politically motivated attack on effective teen pregnancy prevention programs and critical research for life-threatening diseases," said Melissa Reed, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic. "It is shameful that the North Carolina legislature is using a fraudulent attack on Planned Parenthood to advance their extreme political ideology."
It's unclear what impact the bill will have on universities and others doing research that uses fetal tissue and stem cells. Because it bans "any consideration whatsoever," Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, pointed out it could ban any transfer of tissue in which costs for transportation or preservation were recovered.
"This legislature is attempting to smear Planned Parenthood’s trusted name without regard for the many families who may benefit from potential lifesaving medical research," Reed said.
But Republican lawmakers said that no state support should go toward an organization that in any way deals with abortion.
"That kind of thing is abhorrent," Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, said.