June 3, 2015 — The North Carolina Senate on Monday voted 32-16 to approve a measure (HB 465) that would extend the state's mandatory delay before an abortion from 24 to 72 hours, the AP/Washington Times reports.
The measure now returns to the state House, where state lawmakers must accept changes to the bill made in the state Senate.
According to the AP/Times, if the state House does not agree to the changes, the chambers must negotiate a compromise measure. If the state House does accept the changes, the bill will be sent to Gov. Pat McCrory (R) for consideration (Robertson, AP/Washington Times, 6/1).
In addition to the mandatory delay, the bills passed by both the state House and Senate (SB 604) 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.
Specifically, the measures would require physicians to provide the state Department of Health and Human Services with information about abortions performed after the 16th week of pregnancy. In addition, the 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.
State Senate Amendments
The state Senate last week amended HB 465 to include provisions that increase restrictions on sex offenders and add protections for survivors of domestic violence. 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/29).
According to the AP/Times, the amended bill also would require annual inspections of clinics and ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions. In addition, the measure would mandate that no one under age 18 would be allowed to be employed by such providers.
Further, the state Senate in a 46-1 vote approved an amendment, proposed by state Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D), that changes the bill's requirement that abortion can only be performed by ob-gyns. Under the amendment, physicians with "sufficient training" in "miscarriage management" and abortion care are allowed to perform the procedures.
Meanwhile, state legislators rejected another amendment, proposed by state Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram (D), that would have prohibited officials from shackling pregnant prisoners, particularly during delivery (AP/Washington Times, 6/1).
Supporters of the measure said the increased delay would allow women more time to make a decision about whether to have an abortion (Minnick, WNCN News, 6/2).
Separately, during debate on the measure, state Sen. Angela Bryant (D) said there is no documented medical reason to support extending the mandatory delay period.
Similarly, Smith-Ingram said the bill could force women to seek illegal abortions, which could put their lives at risk (AP/Washington Times, 6/1).
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic's Alison Kiser said the measure "is about politicians attempting to insert themselves into medical practice, again, overruling the best practices and medical knowledge of professional medical organizations" (WNCN News, 6/2).