Have you made a phone call to your Representative about this matter?
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — “If I had only known … ” — five small words that reveal the regret of many post-abortive Tar Heel women could be eliminated from their vocabulary if lawmakers push ahead with the Woman’s Right to Know Act. House Bill 854 won a favorable recommendation from Judiciary Subcommittee B on Wednesday in a 9-5 vote along party lines following emotional testimony and intense debate.
“It is not a true choice unless you have all the facts,” Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret), who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg), told the committee as she described her niece’s experience at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where she was denied access to sonogram images.
The legislation, which would require abortion providers to give women information about risks, side effects and other pregnancy options at least 24 hours before the scheduled abortion and would ensure that patients undergo an ultrasound four hours before the procedure, would bring North Carolina in line with some 24 other states that have informed consent laws.
“It is what is necessary for people to be truly informed,” said Majority Leader Paul Stam (Wake).
Dr. Martha Shuping, a psychiatrist with more than 20 years of experience treating post-abortive women, said the legislation is sorely needed.
“One North Carolina woman told me that she received better informed consent when her dog had surgery compared to what she received when she had her abortion,” Shuping said. “This is typical.”
She cited a 2004 study showing that two-thirds of American women reported they had not received any counseling prior to abortion and just 17.5 percent had been told anything about alternatives. Further, the study showed only one in 10 women believed they had received adequate counseling before abortion.
But opponents argued that the effort to give women more information is insulting to them, would intrude on the doctor-patient relationship and could create an undue burden on those seeking to exercise their Roe v. Wade rights.
Rep. Alice Bordsen (D-Alamance) said the bill wasn’t about abortion but was about women and that it implied that they were either “really stupid” or that they “lack a moral compass.” She said rather than discussing abortion, lawmakers should be passing legislation to guarantee that every female of childbearing age is given “free and easy access to contraception and is urged to use it no matter what.”
Fellow Democrat Rick Glazier (Cumberland) said the bill “determines one size of information and procedure fits all” and that complex decisions do not “fit neatly in a black and white statutory box.” Instead, he said “reproductive decisions take place in the messy gray zone of hard choices informed by individual circumstances and conscience.”
But these are some of the very reasons why the bill is needed, according to the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“These decisions don’t have to be made in the dark. While every case is unique, all women considering abortion need to know the whole truth,” he said.
“This bill would ensure that they are informed about the risks of both abortion and pregnancy, as well as options such as adoption. And as for intrusion on the doctor-patient relationship, one of the provisions of the bill is that the patient must be told the doctor’s name, whether he or she has malpractice insurance and the location of the nearest hospital. We don’t think that’s asking too much. Nor does it in any way imply a woman is too ‘stupid’ to make such a monumental decision. Moreover, moral decisions can never be made without all the proper information.”
Dr. Martin McCaffrey, a neonatal-perinatal specialist and associate professor of pediatrics at UNC School of Medicine and one of seven physicians to address the Judiciary Committee Wednesday, said women need to know what no fewer than 122 studies have shown — abortion increases the risks of preterm delivery in subsequent pregnancies.
“It has been reported that abortion has increased very pre-term deliveries by 31 percent. In 2009 there were 2,300 very low birth weight infants born in North Carolina. Abortion is likely responsible for 720 of these cases, 180 excess deaths and 54 extra cases of cerebral palsy,” he said. “The prematurity cost of abortion in North Carolina for just the first year of life alone approximates $46 million.”
“The abortion-prematurity discussion exposes another tragedy, however. It’s the willingness of some to conceal settled medical science and abandon their duty to fully inform women.”
In short, McCaffrey said “if abortions were bananas, they would be covered with surgeon general warnings.”
He also talked about the disparity revealed by the higher rate of both abortions and premature births in the African American community, an issue he said few in the healthcare arena are willing to discuss.
But Sylinthia Stewart, a black woman who has had five abortions, had no trouble addressing the issue with lawmakers.
“Abortion is a racist act,” she said. “Every time I went for an abortion, I was never told the information… You know what my education was when I went for my abortion? … ‘Do you want it?'”
“This bill will protect black women,” she said. “We are 89 percent of the rate that have abortions … the women who actually have abortions need more information…”
While opponents argued that House Bill 854 would micromanage women’s healthcare and burden abortion seekers with the possibility of having to make two trips to a clinic to accommodate the 24-hour waiting period, supporters said making sure women are fully informed before they consent to such a life-altering procedure is worth the extra effort.
“To me, this is a bill that is pro-choice. It is giving women an option. It is showing them the two paths they can take. What is more pro-choice than that?” asked Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly). “If you are truly pro-choice, this is a good bill.”
“I would argue Planned Parenthood is not pro-choice. They are pro-abortion, plain and simple…” he added. “They can stand up here and say they are pro-choice all day long and scream it until the cows come home but it is just not the case.”
House Bill 854 is being referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
Christians across North Carolina are urged to contact their lawmakers and ask them to support House Bill 854, Abortion — Woman’s Right to Know. The bill is the top legislative priority for North Carolina Right to Life, which reports that it would save thousands of lives by significantly reducing the number of abortions performed in North Carolina, now at more than 30,000 per year.
Take Christian Action:
PHONE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN THE NC HOUSE and ask him/her to support HB 854-Woman’s Right to Know Act. For the telephone number of your Representative and a phone script (talking points), simply go to the Christian Action League’s Grassroots Action Center by clicking here and then click on “Take Action” at the bottom of the page and follow the prompts. It’s really very easy!
Phone calls are important in this case. Emails may not be seen or deleted. Your lawmaker needs to hear from you. If he/she is not in the office when you call, leave your message with the Legislative Assistant who will be answering the phone. Be certain to give your name, address, and telephone number. This way your lawmaker knows it was from one of his own constituents and may want to return the call. If for some reason no one answers the phone, leave a voicemail.
Lawmakers will fully be back at work and in their offices by Tuesday, May 17th. After this time through Thursday is the best time to catch them.
You may also want to share this matter with your Pastor, your Church, and other friends, whom you know will be concerned about this issue. Download the talking points or phone script by Clicking here. Then make copies and pass it around to friends in your area (the same legislative district as your own), along with the phone number of the Representative handwritten by you somewhere on the page. Urge family members and friends to call also.
Remember: THIS IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES!!! Take the time to be a good Christian Citizen. Make a difference by generating a wave of phone calls urging your Representative to pass this critical legislation to protect a woman’s right to be fully informed when she’s considering an abortion.