N.C. House Panel Advances Bill Banning Abortions Based on Sex of the Fetus

May 3, 2013 — A North Carolina House committee on Wednesday approved a bill (HB 716) that would ban physicians from "knowingly or recklessly" performing an abortion when the sex of the fetus is a "significant factor" in a woman's request for the procedure, AP/WRAL reports. The measure now heads to the full House.

Violating the ban could result in fines of $10,000 for the incident, which would escalate to $100,000 for the third and subsequent incidents. The bill also would permit the woman who received the abortion or her spouse, parent, guardian or health care provider to sue the abortion provider.

If passed, North Carolina would become the sixth state to enact a ban on abortions based on the sex of the fetus, according to Barbara Holt of North Carolina Right to Life.

Key Testimony

State Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R), the bill's sponsor, said it would "keep abortion legal" and "safe," adding, "It will just no longer be discriminatory."

Opponents of the bill, including Milan Pham of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, said lawmaker should instead focus on addressing racial disparities in health care and other areas to address discrimination.

Physicians also testified to the committee that the legislation could make it difficult for patients and providers to have frank conversations.

Joshua Nitsche, a Winston-Salem doctor, said a woman might need an abortion to protect her health, but "a passing comment like 'I always wanted a girl,' could force me to refuse her this life-saving procedure or risk fines" (Robertson, AP/WRAL, 5/1).