By Pam Blume
Christian Action League
April 24, 2015
RALEIGH – On Thursday, the NC House voted to pass House Bill 465, the informed consent bill that extends the waiting period for having an abortion from 24 to 72 hours. The vote was 74-45, along party lines.
In addition to extending the waiting period, the bill requires doctors to send the patient’s ultrasound image to the Department of Health and Human Services if the procedure is performed near the end of the legal period allowed for abortions to take place (abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy are illegal in NC).
Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe, attempted to amend the bill and remove that requirement saying “There is no other law in North Carolina that requires health care providers to provide copies of X-rays or ultrasounds to the state. Such images should remain in the hands of the woman’s doctor and personal medical file, not in the hands of the state.”
The bill’s proponents argued that at the required ultrasounds of later-term abortions would provide evidence that doctors are not performing abortions past the legal limit. Bill sponsor Rep Jacqueline Schafer, (R-Mecklenburg) said “The point is to make sure the physician is abiding by the law.” The amendment failed.
Bill opponents said that extending the waiting period was demeaning to women by denying them the right to total control of their bodies and placed an unnecessary burden on lower income women.
Supporters of the bill said the 72-hour waiting period would allow more time for a woman to consider her decision and confer with her doctor. Schaffer said, “The poorest decisions that we make are the ones we make under pressure and on impulse. We want women to be equipped with the right information as they are going to make that decision.”
The debate was emotional on each side.
Rep. Tricia Cotham, (D-Mecklenburg) an opponent of the bill, spoke of having to end a pregnancy due to a life-threatening medical complication and a fetus that was not viable. “It was awful, it was painful, and it was sad. It was, and is, personal,” Cotham said. “This decision was up to me, my husband, my doctor and my God. It was not up to any of you in this chamber, and I didn’t take a survey.”
Bill supporter Rep. Pat McElraft, (R-Carteret), spoke of her nephew and his wife who decided against an abortion after seeing the ultrasound. She said she knows that some women do not get enough complete information before deciding to abort and carry the pain of their decision forever. “The regret that these women feel is so tremendously psychologically unhealthy when they’ve had abortions and not been given time to consider an alternative. Seventy-two hours is not asking too much.”
McElraft added, “To see those fingers and toes in some circumstances – when they’re given the opportunity, so many of them change their mind. Why do we not want them to have the opportunity to change their mind?”
Christian Action League Executive Director Dr. Mark Creech was in attendance for the debate on the measure. He was particularly struck by the presence and behavior of some of the bill’s opponents.
“Abortion supporters had their people in the Gallery to observe the debate,” said Creech. “You could tell who most of them were because they were dressed uniformly in pink t-shirts with pro-choice slogans.
“Interestingly, when the opening prayer was given at the start of the session, unlike everyone else on the House floor as well as the Gallery, they remained seated, failing to show the proper decorum and reverence for the prayer.
“I said to myself, ‘How appropriate to their worldview. If you have no respect for God, why would you have respect for life?’
“I know that not all supporters of abortion are rabid, atheistic, God-hating, irreligious folk. I’m just telling you what I saw. And I believe it is indicative of a viewpoint that discounts and even disrespects the Giver and Sustainer of life – God.”
Planned Parenthood responded to the passage of the bill, saying it “further proves these anti-women’s-health politicians will stop at nothing to chip away access to safe and legal abortion.”
The bill will now go to the Senate and is expected to pass there.
With the passage of this legislation, North Carolina will join several other states with an extended waiting period. At least 26 states have a 24-hour waiting period. Florida’s legislature also voted this week to require a 24-hour waiting period. That vote was also along party lines with opponents accusing supporters of “chipping” away at Roe. v Wade.