@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

NC House approves three-day abortion waiting period

Posted April 23, 2015

— On a party-line vote, state House lawmakers voted Thursday to extend the waiting period for an abortion in North Carolina from 24 to 72 hours.

Supporters say the change will allow a woman seeking an abortion more time to consider her pre-procedure consultation with the physician before making her decision. But opponents say it's a medically unnecessary delaying tactic that disrespects the woman's right to control her own body.

House Bill 465 would also require doctors who perform an abortion during the last two weeks allowed by law to send ultrasounds, measurements and all other information to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

"The point," said sponsor Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, R-Mecklenburg, "is to make sure the physician is abiding by the law," which bans abortions after 20 weeks.

The emotionally charged debate was almost entirely dominated by women on both sides of the issue.

"The poorest decisions that we make are the ones we make under pressure and on impulse," Schaffer told the House. "We want women to be equipped with the right information as they are going to make that decision."

While proponents argued the bill "empowers women and promotes the health and safety of women," opponents argued that it assumes women have not already given the decision a great deal of thought and will act as an additional barrier to access, especially for low-income women who may already face difficulty finding a provider and scheduling the procedure.

The chamber fell completely silent as Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, told the story of having to undergo an abortion while serving in the House due to a life-threatening medical complication caused by her first pregnancy, which was not viable.

"It was awful, it was painful, and it was sad. It was, and is, personal," Cotham told the stunned House. "This decision was up to me, my husband, my doctor and my God. It was not up to any of you in this chamber, and I didn’t take a survey."

Accusing Republican lawmakers of "wanting to play doctor," Cotham argued that the extended waiting period "sends a message of shame to women who may have endured abortion for reasons you don’t know."

“Abortion is a deeply personal decision," Cotham finished. "My womb and my uterus is not up for your political grab. Legislators – you – do not hold shares in my body, so stop trying to manipulate my mind.”

Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, told the story of a nephew and his wife who changed their mind about an abortion after seeing the fetal ultrasound. She said too many women say they didn't have enough information before they underwent the procedure.

"The regret that these women feel is so tremendously psychologically unhealthy when they’ve had abortions and not been given time to consider an alternative. Seventy-two hours is not asking too much," McElraft argued. "To see those fingers and toes in some circumstances – when they’re given the opportunity, so many of them change their mind. Why do we not want them to have the opportunity to change their mind?"

Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Yancey, agreed.

"Seventy-two hours is only three days. I think that’s a good amount of time," Presnell said. "These young girls, when they go in there – very abrupt, very quickly – they make that decision that they’re going to get rid of this baby."

Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said that assumption is demeaning to women and will pose an additional barrier to women "of modest means" who must often make travel arrangements to reach a provider.

"This bill is intended to protect women from themselves. We certainly can't trust the woman or her family or her doctor or her pastor. The state knows best," Insko said.

Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe, tried to amend the bill to remove the requirement that doctors performing abortions near the end of the legal window must send the patient's ultrasound to DHHS for examination.

"There is no other law in North Carolina that requires health care providers to provide copies of X-rays or ultrasounds to the state," Fisher argued. "Such images should remain in the hands of the woman's doctor and personal medical file, not in the hands of the state."

But supporters of the bill argued the ultrasounds would allow state regulators to verify that doctors are not performing abortions later than allowed by law, and the amendment failed.

The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it's expected to pass easily.

The 72-hour waiting period would be one of the longest in the country, joining South Dakota, Utah and Missouri. Several other state legislatures are considering similar extensions.

The North Carolina Family Policy Council, which actively lobbied for the bill, heralded its passage as an "important pro-life measure," while Planned Parenthood, which lobbied against it, said its passage "further proves these anti-women’s health politicians will stop at nothing to chip away access to safe and legal abortion."

62 Comments

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  • Tammy Rush Apr 24, 2015
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    Nothing says it isn't human, but legally it isn't a "person". Rights are granted to people. Zygotes/embryos/fetuses are not people with rights. Why else would conservatives try to pass laws granting "personhood" to a zygote/embryo/fetus? To give them rights they don't have. They have certain legal protections, but not rights.

    To answer your other question, there are laws on the books regarding feticide that vary by state. Just google it.

  • Matt Wood Apr 24, 2015
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    Regardless of the context of the Treaty, it is still America proclaiming to the world in an official document that America is not founded in any way on Christianity. Period. John Adams signed off on it. Period.

    And you still deflected and didn't address Jefferson's comments. You're grasping at straws.

  • Abrams Gunner Apr 24, 2015
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    That's like saying walking into a bank with a gun and saying "give me the money" isn't robbing a bank until they actually hand you the money.

  • Sam Nada Apr 24, 2015
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    "The only two people who even makes a reference in this article to religion are Insko and Cotham, both democrats that oppose it."

    You can believe that if you wish. But it's obvious to nearly everyone else that the Republicans are lying about their agenda. I won't comment on that point further.

  • Sam Nada Apr 24, 2015
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    "I hope for, and expect, compassion for everyone" .........except an unborn baby. The medical definition of a non-viable fetus is "An expelled or delivered fetus which, although living, cannot possibly survive to the point of sustaining life independently, even with support of the best available medical therapy." What part of that says it isn't human?"

    Terms are important. "Baby" is ambiguous. Defining each gradual transition from cells to a human being is quite complex. Rights and degrees of legal protection change with time and development. The law has drawn a line before which the mother has a right to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy. You appear to want to take that choice away from her in favor of an entity that is not fully a human being. We're not going to agree on this. So be it. But the law is established. And using legal maneuvers to try and prevent that constitutional right will be, and should be, challenged.

  • Abrams Gunner Apr 24, 2015
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    No. You are assuming. The only two people who even makes a reference in this article to religion are Insko and Cotham, both democrats that oppose it.

  • Abrams Gunner Apr 24, 2015
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    Sorry, this bill doesn't restrict anything. It simply delays. There is a major difference.

  • Sam Nada Apr 24, 2015
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    I'm not assuming too much. You're either naive, or disingenuous.

  • Quinn Satterthwaite Apr 24, 2015
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    Let me point out more fundamental dishonest from these supposed "moral" debaters.

    First off it wasnt John Adam who wrote it at all.

    Secondly the quote is deliberately without context.

    Thirdly the quote is deliberately wrong. Why? Because to render it correctly would make clear that the context was deceptive.

    "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    The context is all why the Barbary pirates should be allowed to enter into a treaty which otherwise Islam would forbid.

    Go read the treaty yourself and decide

  • Sam Nada Apr 24, 2015
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    So, you didn't write this, "You thinking you have a monopoly on morality is a non sequitor."?

    I don't think I have a monopoly. I'm also not proposing laws restricting access to abortion, or banning the marriage of consenting adults who don't meet my moral approval test.

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