May 9, 2013 — The North Carolina House on Tuesday approved a bill (HB 716) that would prohibit physicians from performing an abortion if they have "knowledge, or an objective reason to know" that the sex of the fetus is a "significant factor" in the woman's request for the procedure, the AP/Charlotte Observer reports. The bill now heads to the Senate.
The bill would permit women or their relatives to sue physicians for damages for violating the ban. Physicians found to violate the requirement also could face fines. Under an approved floor amendment, physicians would not have a duty to ask a woman if she is seeking an abortion because of the sex of the fetus.
The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Pat McElraft (R), claimed that abortion is being used for sex selection in the U.S. The bill's sponsors did not provide specific evidence that the practice occurs in North Carolina, the AP/Observer reports.
Several House Democrats argued that the bill could encourage ethnic discrimination and racial profiling. State Rep. Alma Adams (D) said doctors might be reluctant to perform abortions because of the requirements. "We are putting doctors in a position now questioning the motives of these women," she said, adding, "I don't believe doctors would be willing to take that kind of risk" (Robertson, AP/Charlotte Observer, 5/7).