North Carolina Passes Harsh Last Minute Anti-Abortion Amendment
On Wednesday morning, during the last minute discussion of an anti-Sharia bill, the North Carolina state Senate gave final approval to an amendment restricting abortion access in a vote of 29 to 12.
Tuesday evening, North Carolina state Senators covertly added an amendment that would severely limit women's access to abortion services to a bill originally intended to outlaw Islamic Sharia Law throughout the family court system. Committee discussion of this bill (HB 695) was scheduled for 10:00 am on July 2. However, that discussion was delayed without public notice until 5:30 pm that evening causing voiced outrage from those opposing the newly added, abortion-related amendment. Referring to the similarly duplicitous actions of Republicans in the Texas state legislature, Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina remarked, "They're trying to pull a Texas."
The bill, named the "Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act of 2013" [PDF] was almost doubled in length by the added amendment with several provisions covering a wide breadth of abortion related services. The amendment will now require the following of all patients, doctors, and hospitals that perform or seek out abortion related services:
Institute "Conscious Protection" - The amendment allows for any health care provider to 'opt-out' of providing abortion-related services, including referrals.
Limitation of Abortion Funding - Health plans created under the new state insurance exchange as mandated by the Affordable Care Act will not include abortion coverage. In addition, any city or county health plan in North Carolina may not extend more abortion coverage than received by state employees.
Sex Selective Abortions - Abortions believed to be sought out on the basis of the sex of the fetus will be outlawed.
Transfer Agreements - All clinics offering abortion services must enter into "transfer agreements" with a local hospital, though they are not necessary in cases of emergency.
Licensing - A new licensing process, similar to that of outpatient surgical clinics, will be required of all clinics offering abortion services.
Mandate "Informed Consent" - Requires that all scheduled patients are provided the name of the doctor performing the abortion 24 hours prior to their appointment, potentially putting the doctor in danger (anti-choice extremists have scheduled "fake" appointments just to get information about clinic employees, including doctors).
There is only one clinic in North Carolina out of the state's 36 that currently meets all of the amendment's new requirements if the bill is signed into law by the governor. North Carolina Governor Pat McCroy (R) has not said whether or not he will veto the bill, but chided the Senate Republicans for their efforts to rush the bill through the legislative process.
Media Resources: HB 695; Huffington Post 7/3/2013; News Observer 7/2/2013; WRAL 7/2/2013