By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — A coalition of pro-life groups and individuals vowed this year to make the Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know Act a top legislative priority. Thanks to this week’s veto override votes in the House (72-47) and Senate (29-19), we can all now call it the law of the land and a chance to save an estimated 3,000 unborn children in North Carolina each year.
“This is certainly a wonderful victory for the unborn and for women facing this crucial decision who need complete information,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We praise God and thank lawmakers for standing firm on this issue. We know it wasn’t easy.”
The much-maligned law, which the governor called “repugnant” and “extreme,” is designed to ensure that women seeking abortion get basic information about the gestational age of the baby, the risks of pregnancy and abortion and whether or not the doctor has malpractice insurance or privileges at the local hospital. It will require an ultrasound which the woman may choose to view and mandate that she be given information about alternatives to abortion. It will also introduce a 24-hour waiting period.
Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Burke) pointed out that the state requires a one-year waiting period for divorce and a three-day wait for home refinancing loans.
“If a one-year waiting period saves a marriage and a three-day waiting period prevents a bad financial decision, I think those of us in this room would agree that these laws served their purposes and the waiting periods were worth the inconvenience. And if a 24-hour waiting period saves one life I would hope that all of us here would likewise agree that any inconvenience of the doctor or patient was also worth it and was insignificant,” Daniel said in his presentation of the motion to override the governor’s veto on Thursday, adding “Every life has dignity and value, and every person bears the mark of almighty God.”
In the House on Tuesday, bill sponsor Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) told fellow lawmakers the bill was about “respecting women enough to give them the time and information they need to counter the noise in their heads or the sisters, the boyfriends, the parents, the media and maybe even the protestors outside the clinic.”
“It is about trusting them enough to make a fully informed decision,” she said.
But most of the discussion in both chambers came from opponents who insisted that the bill would hinder women from getting legal abortions and lead to deadly back-alley procedures.
Sen. Eric Mansfield (D-Cumberland) said he didn’t believe the post-abortive women who had testified in committee that they had received abortions without being fully informed of risks or, in some cases, even being told the doctor’s name.
“To lead us to believe that this person got out of a car and went into a facility, signed a bunch of paperwork, then had their clothes taken off, put on a gown, and then went back and had a procedure performed, woke up in recovery room, walked out of that facility and no one in the entire facility told them they were having a procedure or the complications or risks of that procedure, I just don’t believe that happens in North Carolina,” he said.
Fellow doctor, Sen. Bill Purcell (D-Scotland), took a similar view.
“No physician licensed in this state is going to perform any kind of surgery, including abortions, without discussion with the patient before the procedure. The implication that physicians presently don’t discuss ramifications of a pregnancy termination with their patients is absolutely not true.”
The opponents’ disparagement of the bill was broad and impassioned.
Rep. Frank McGuirt (D-Union) referenced George Orwell’s 1984 and said it was “Big Brother bashing his way into the OR, bashing his way into the relationship between the doctor and his patient.”
Rep. Joe Hackney (D-Orange) called it one of the “most extreme laws in the United States of America.” Rep. Rick Glazier said it was “far more intrusive than anything being proposed in Washington.” And Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Wake) said anyone who voted for the bill is “committing malpractice because the Legislature will be telling a doctor how to deal with an individual patient and their needs.”
But Samuelson reminded lawmakers that more than two dozen other states have similar informed consent laws for abortion and that waiting periods are not without precedent. In fact sterilization typically requires a 30-day waiting period.
“What is so dangerous about information?” she challenged.
Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford) put the issue in perspective as he addressed the bill’s requirements to have an ultrasound and a 24-hour wait.
“This is a small thing to ask someone to do who is given custody of such a precious commodity to just take a little time and see something that does give you information….” he said, sharing his experience as a new father. “I think that’s what some of the opposition is. They’re afraid of what women might do when they see the evidence.”
House Bill 854 is set to take effect in 90 days.
Other Legislative News
In other legislative news, the Electoral Freedom Act (House Bill 32) received a favorable report from the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate, but has been re-refferred to the Committee on Judiciary 1 for further work.
Supported by the Christian Action League, this bill would make it easier for smaller parties to be listed on the ballot by lowering the number of required signatures the party must obtain from 2 percent of the total number of voters in the last election to .25 percent of registered and qualified voters. It passed the House June 7.