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N.C. Gov. Vetoes Pre-Abortion Counseling Bill; Texas Blocks Contracts With Abortion Providers

N.C. Gov. Vetoes Pre-Abortion Counseling Bill; Texas Blocks Contracts With Abortion Providers

June 28, 2011 — North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) on Monday vetoed a bill (HB 854) that would have required women to obtain an ultrasound and undergo mandatory counseling at least 24 hours prior to receiving abortion care, the Raleigh News & Observer reports (Bonner, Raleigh News & Observer, 6/28). Supporters of the bill would need a three-fifths majority to override the veto -- one vote more in each chamber than the bill received (Robertson/Dalesio, AP/Charlotte Observer, 6/28).

The bill would require an abortion provider to describe the ultrasound image. Although the woman would not have to watch the ultrasound screen or listen to the description, she would have to sign a document acknowledging that the description was provided, and the document would have to be kept on file for at least seven years. Legislative budget analysts estimate that the new requirements would lead to about 2,900 additional births annually, half of which would be paid for by Medicaid or other public health insurance programs. The measure would cost taxpayers $6.7 million in the first year and $35 million over five years, the analysts said (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/16). Women also would receive information about the likely stage of fetal development, the risks of abortion and giving birth, and alternatives to abortion AP/Charlotte Observer, 6/28).

Perdue said physicians should be able to give patients their best advice without political intrusion. "The bill contains provisions that are the most extreme in the nation in terms of interfering with [the doctor-patient] relationship," Perdue said in a statement, adding, "Physicians must be free to advise and treat their patients based on their medical knowledge and expertise and not have their advice overridden by elected officials seeking to impose their own ideological agenda on others" (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/28).

Texas Bill Would Block Contracts With Abortion Providers

The Texas House on Monday approved a sweeping health care bill that would prohibit the state from contracting with organizations that provide abortion services or affiliate with organizations that do so, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. The bill also would deny state funds to county hospital districts that use local tax revenue to finance abortion. The measure now advances to Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is expected to sign it.

Travis County is the only district in the state that currently uses local tax money to fund abortion care. The bill provides exceptions if the woman's life is at risk or the fetus has a severe abnormality. Republicans had contended that the language about abnormalities was too vague but eventually settled on language defining fetal abnormalities as those "incompatible with life outside the womb" (Weissert, AP/Houston Chronicle, 6/27).

The bill also requests that the Obama administration convert Texas' Medicaid program into a block grant. The bill would increase use of Medicaid managed care plans to save the state $400 million next year (Kliff, Politico, 6/27).