May 29, 2015 — The North Carolina Senate on Thursday voted 31-15 to advance a bill (HB 465) that would extend the state's mandatory delay before an abortion from 24 to 72 hours, WRAL reports (Binker/Leslie, WRAL, 5/28).
The bill is scheduled to receive a second vote in the state Senate next week. A version of the bill already cleared the state House, but state lawmakers would need to agree on changes made to the legislation by the state Senate before submitting it to Gov. Pat McCrory (R) (WRAL, 5/28).
In addition to the mandatory delay, the bills passed by both state House and Senate would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions if they say they have ethical, moral or religious objections to the procedure. The measures also would institute additional reporting requirements for providers (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/6).
Specifically, the both bills would require physicians to provide the state Department of Health and Human Services with information about abortions performed after the 16th week of pregnancy (WRAL, 5/28). In addition, both 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, 5/6).
The state House measure would also prohibit physicians other than specialists in obstetrics or gynecology from performing abortions.
State Senate Additions
The state Senate amended HB 465 to add provisions that increase restrictions on sex offenders and add protections for survivors of domestic violence (Drew, AP/Asheville Citizen-Times, 5/28). In addition, the state Senate added language that would alter the state's definition of statutory rape to make it easier for individuals to collect payments for child support (Morrill, Raleigh News & Observer, 5/28).
According to WRAL, the Senate Rules Committee rejected efforts by lawmakers who support abortion rights to separate out those amendments from the bill, which previously focused only on abortion-related issues (WRAL, 5/28).
Meanwhile, conservative leaders in the state Senate used parliamentary maneuvers to avoid or reject amendments that would have added exceptions to the mandatory delay in cases of rape, incest or fetal anomaly, or removed the physician specialist requirement (AP/Asheville Citizen-Times, 5/28). The chamber will consider two additional amendments on Monday, including one that would bar prisons from shackling pregnant women (WRAL, 5/28).
State Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram (D) said that the bill's abortion restrictions would "relegat[e] [women] to second-class citizenship" and that it was "insulting" to women "to say it takes 72 hours to make up our mind" (AP/Asheville Citizen-Times, 5/28).
Meanwhile, state Sen. Floyd McKissick (D) said the abortion restrictions were an attempt to "tr[y] to bully and intimidate doctors, to make sure doctors don't want to perform" abortions.
Separately, state Sen. Josh Stein (D), who tried to separate the amendments that were not related to abortion out from the rest of the bill, noted that lawmakers who support abortion rights should not have to choose between backing the bill to advance those amendments or rejecting the bill because of the abortion restrictions. "These are distinct issues," he said, adding, "We should not be playing politics with women's health."
According to WRAL, state Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R), who supports the measure, said it would ensure that the state's 20-week abortion ban is upheld (WRAL, 5/28).