The provision that would have prevented employees at public medical school departments in North Carolina from performing abortions and teaching medical students the procedure was dropped from House Bill 465.
But the medically unnecessary 72-hour waiting period (up from a current, barely legal 24-hour period) for a patient obtaining an abortion, and a provision forcing physicians performing abortions after 20 weeks in a pregnancy to report information to the Department of Health and Human Services, remain.
After more than an hour of debate on the House floor, House Bill 465
passed by a 74-45 vote; it now heads to the Senate.
Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, told an affecting story on the floor about her first pregnancy, which was ended in an induced miscarriage when she learned that continuing the pregnancy would threaten her life. (The bill does allow for exceptions to the waiting period in emergencies, according to sponsor Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, the woman who wants a few more little taxpayers
Cotham said swift medical intervention saved her, and she went on to have two boys while serving in North Carolina’s House of Representatives.
“I am offended at the message that women need more time to make this decision,” Cotham said. “What a terrible message we send to young women about how we perceive their lack of ability to make decisions about their body, or their future.”
Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe, introduced amendments designed to protect the privacy of patients and physicians obtaining and performing abortions, by limiting the information that would be supplied to DHHS. Both failed.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, the only man brave enough to speak on the bill, warned that it marks the end to a constitutional right by unduly burdening women seeking abortion. He disparaged the “charade” of a public hearing in the House Health Committee Wednesday, where six anti-choice women talked about their experiences mostly with not choosing abortion.
Citing the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ December decision striking down a 2013 state law that would have forced women considering abortion to view an ultrasound before the procedure, Glazier said this law, too, would not pass constitutional muster. And that there would be no medical evidence, or legislative records, to support the change.
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, summed it up well: “This bill says the state knows best,” she said. “It promotes the most disparaging stereotype about women, that they are irrationally emotional and can’t make important decisions.”
Rep. Jacqueline Schaeffer, R-Mecklenburg, the bill’s primary sponsor, and her cadre of old white supporters in the House insisted the bill was to “promote women’s health and safety,” and to “empower women” by making sure they were “equipped with the right information,” doubtless meaning the right misinformation supplied by anti-choice Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
“We believe this is truly a bill that both pro-life and pro-choice can get behind,” Schaeffer said.
But the bill isn’t really about advancing women’s health or ensuring sound medical practices or preserving the relationship between doctor and patient. It’s about politics and ideology. It's about shaming women. It’s about the state knowing best.