North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory released a statement Wednesday vowing to sign a bill that would extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. The bill has been approved by both the House and Senate and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.
According to a June report from the Guttmacher Institute, North Carolina will, if the bill passes, join Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah as the fourth state to have a three-day waiting period.
McCrory’s statement touts the controversial decision as “very positive progress” towards protecting women’s health. However, critics say these waiting periods aren’t medically necessary. According to North Carolina MDs David A. Grimes and Amy G. Bryant, who have written in opposition to the bill, “no medical justification exists for these waiting periods, and paradoxically they can cause harm.”
By analogy, if a woman develops breast cancer, should she be required to wait three days before beginning treatment? A mastectomy is a serious operation. We suspect that breast cancer patients—and their physicians—would find such a mandatory waiting period patronizing, dangerous and unacceptable.
Reproductive rights group NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina has issued a statement against NC HB 465 outlining the detrimental effects of waiting periods. The organization cites the additional child care and transportation costs required for multiple trips to the doctor as prohibitive for women who do not have access to a personal car.
The bill also requires doctors to gather medical data such as fetal measurements and an ultrasound for all pregnancies later than 16 weeks. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is able to collect the data for “statistical purposes only.”
Said Shoshannah Sayers, executive director of NARAL in North Carolina, in a statement, “The only purpose for these rules seem to be to add in so many requirements that abortions will be too much of a hassle for doctors to perform.”
Voters and politicians have criticized the Governor’s decision as it contradicts a statement he made during a 2012 Gubernatorial debate. In a clip from the debate McCrory clearly answers “none” to a question regarding whether or not McCrory, once elected, would support further restrictions on abortion access.
Sayers summed up many critics’ thoughts when she said, “The message being sent by state legislatures, essentially, is ‘you must be crazy if you want to obtain an abortion—maybe think about it some more and you’ll come to your senses.'”
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Kat Kucera is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Gender Studies and Comparative Literature. She is currently a Ms. editorial intern based in Los Angeles, CA.