GOP seeks new abortion restrictions in NC

Posted February 6, 2019 6:48 p.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2019 1:31 p.m. EST

— Some of the first bills filed in the House this session would put new restrictions on abortion in North Carolina.

House Bill 28 would ban abortions after 13 weeks, down from the current 20 weeks.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Alison Kiser said Wednesday that 13 weeks would be the earliest ban in the U.S. outside of some that have been blocked by courts.

"This is a medically unnecessary and arbitrary cutoff to a women's ability to access safe and legal abortion care," Kiser said.

Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, who sponsors the bill, said in a statement Thursday that, because the U.S. Supreme Court won't decide when life begins, he wants to set it at "quickening," or the first fetal movements.

"We need to work together towards eliminating abortion not expanding it to the point that we kill infants in the hospital beds," Kidwell said. "Lax laws have resulted in nothing short of genocide, so today we're here to send a message."

House Bill 22 would require doctors to tell women that abortions induced by taking the drug mifepristone, commonly known as RU486, can be reversed halfway through.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that suggestion isn't supported by science.

"To be clear, the proposed course of treatment in this bill has not been proven by any credible research or medical evidence to be effective or even safe," Kiser said.

Last year, a doctor published an observational study showing reversal worked in some cases, but no controlled clinical studies have been done.

"People who claim to be in favor of 'choice' should support a mother making the choice to reverse the RU486 process," sponsor Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, said in a statement.

A similar bill was filed two years ago but went nowhere.

House Republican leaders said they expect to see more anti-abortion bills filed soon, and some will probably come up for debate.

Last year, state lawmakers didn't take up any anti-abortion bills. But the subject has garnered more national interest lately.

President Donald Trump called for a ban on late-term abortions in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

New York recently passed abortion-related legislation, and states from Virginia to North Dakota are debating loosening or tightening abortion restrictions.

Abortion has been a hot topic for North Carolina lawmakers since 2011, when Republicans gained control of the General Assembly. Since then, lawmakers have enacted some of the country's strictest laws.

"This is just more of the same from anti-abortion legislators in North Carolina who will really stop at nothing to shame a woman's decision to end a pregnancy and whose ultimate aim is to ban all safe and legal abortion," Kiser said.

It's unclear whether any new regulations would have enough support to become law if Gov. Roy Cooper decides to veto them.