N.C. Senate Votes To Override Veto on Ultrasound Bill, Making Restrictions Law

July 29, 2011 — The North Carolina Senate on Thursday voted 29-19 to override Gov. Beverly Perdue's (D) veto of a measure (HB 854) that would require women to obtain an ultrasound and undergo mandatory counseling at least 24 hours prior to receiving abortion care, effectively making the legislation law, AP/WRAL reports (Dalesio, AP/WRAL, 7/28). The House on Tuesday voted in support of the override measure (Barnett, Reuters, 7/28).

Under the legislation, abortion would be prohibited unless a woman receives state-specified information about the procedure, an ultrasound and a description of the ultrasound image from a provider. 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.

Perdue said she vetoed the measure because she believes that physicians should be able to give patients their best advice without political intrusion (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/27). The requirements will take effect in October (Reuters, 7/28).

Only one Republican senator, Stan Bingham, did not vote in favor of the measure. Although one other Republican senator was not present for the vote, the Republican majority had just enough votes to override Perdue's veto, according to AP/WRAL.

Senate Democrats opposed the measure, explaining that it imposed an unprecedented government intrusion on the physician-patient relationship. The North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society also opposes the requirements (AP/WRAL, 7/28). Paige Johnson, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said that women do not need "state-scripted" counseling before they consent to an abortion, explaining that "[w]omen give this decision great thought, and these legislators have passed legislation that assumes women are not capable of making this decision" (Reuters, 7/28).