House moves ahead with legal limits on abortion

Posted May 11, 2011 4:02 a.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2011 11:23 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina legislators moved ahead Wednesday with a bill that would add requirements before a woman can get an abortion in an effort supporters hope will diminish the practice.

A House judiciary subcommittee voted 9-5 to approve a bill that would add new requirements, such as a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and an ultrasound of the fetus.

Supporters say the extra information would help women make more informed decisions.

"The goal is information, sufficient (information), so that choice can truly be an informed choice," said Rep. Paul Stam, R-District 37.

A leading national reproductive health services provider, however, sees the issue differently.

"I think this bill is designed to make abortion more difficult to access and more expensive," said Jessica Bearden, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems.

North Carolina is one of 16 states that don't require counseling before an abortion. Half the states require women to wait between counseling and the abortion procedure.

Stam contends that women seeking an abortion aren't given all the facts about medical risks or the prenatal development of the unborn child.

Bearden said the organization prioritizes education.

"When a woman comes to Planned Parenthood to receive abortion services, she is informed of all the risks that might be available to her. This bill goes far beyond that."

Republican leaders in several states this year are prompting changes that include requiring a pre-abortion ultrasound that provides a visual image of the developing child's features. Ten states already require ultrasounds.

"They don't have to look at it. They don't have to hear the explanation if they don't want to, but they have to have the opportunity to see and hear (the fetus)," Stam said.

The Woman's Right to Know Act is expected to hit the House floor this week.