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N.C. House Approves 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

N.C. House Approves 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

April 24, 2015 — The North Carolina House on Thursday voted 74-45 to approve a bill (HB 465) that would extend the state's mandatory delay before an abortion from 24 to 72 hours, WNCN News reports.

The bill now heads to the state Senate (Minnick, WNCN News, 4/23). If approved, the measure would make North Carolina the fourth state to impose a 72-hour delay, joining Missouri, Utah and South Dakota (Robertson, AP/Charlotte Observer, 4/22).

Bill Details

The legislation shares some provisions with a state Senate bill (SB 604) filed last month. Specifically, both measures would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions if they say they have ethical, moral or religious objections to the procedure. In addition, both bills would institute additional reporting requirements (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/6).

According to the AP/Charlotte Observer, the state House bill specifically requires physicians to provide the state Department of Health and Human Services with information about abortions performed during or after the 18th week of pregnancy (AP/Charlotte Observer, 4/22). In addition, both the state House and Senate bills would require additional documentation for abortions performed after 20 weeks' gestation to demonstrate that continuing the pregnancy would have threatened the woman's life or substantially impaired her health. The state prohibits abortion after 20 weeks in other circumstances (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/6).

A proposed amendment that would have eliminated the reporting requirements did not pass, according to WRAL News (Leslie, WRAL News, 4/23).

However, lawmakers removed a provision that would have prohibited medical schools at the University of North Carolina and East Carolina University from performing abortions except in cases of rape or incest, or life endangerment (AP/Charlotte Observer, 4/22). Lawmakers also removed a provision that would have allowed only licensed obstetricians or gynecologists to perform abortions (WNCN News, 4/23).

Discussion

State Rep. Susan Martin (R), the bill's primary sponsor, said the measure aims to ensure women have "more time" to make an informed decision.

However, Dalia Brahmi, a physician who provides abortion care at Planned Parenthood clinics, said the measure is "dangerous" because "it would mandate a medically unnecessary 72-hour delay." She added, "Delaying access limits the options for medical abortion and in some cases (forces) women to have a surgical procedure when the less invasive treatment such as abortion with pills might be preferred."

Similarly, Melissa Reed, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said, "There is a very short window of time for a woman to make these deeply personal decisions and politicians should not be placing unnecessary barriers for those women" (AP/Charlotte Observer, 4/22).

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina also criticized the measure, noting that the bill is "based on the condescending notion that a woman can't or won't take the time she needs to consult with her doctor and make the best decision for her own circumstances" (WNCN News, 4/23).