By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
June 27, 2013
RALEIGH — The N.C. House approved a bill that would add information about abortion and other avoidable causes of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies to the state’s sex-ed curriculum. Also this week, committees considered bills regarding sex trafficking laws and gaming nights.
“We’re glad to see the Health Curriculum/Preterm Birth bill move forward as well as the Safe Harbor legislation,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “And we’re hopeful the Game Nights bill gets stopped in its tracks.”
Senate Bill 132, amended slightly to allow information on the link between abortion and other causes of pre-term births to also be made available to non-public schools, passed 69-42 on third reading Thursday.
House Majority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake) told fellow lawmakers that “overwhelming statistical evidence” mounting over the last few years showed that one abortion raises the risk of future pre-term births by 25 to 60 percent and a second abortion, by about 93 percent. He said the attributed risk differential between abortion and preterm birth is almost exactly the same as the link between smoking and prematurity.
“If you are concerned about women smoking during pregnancy, then you need to be concerned about this,” he said.
But Rep. Alma Adams (D-Guilford) insisted the bill was a “counterattack on the Healthy Youth Act” and an attempt to stigmatize abortion. And fellow Democrat Grier Martin (D-Wake) said it was a “feel good bill” aimed at scaring women and wouldn’t truly help reduce pre-term births.
Repeated attempts to weaken the bill by changing “cause” to “risk factor” or eliminating specific references to abortion and the rest of the list of causes failed as did an amendment that would have added information about the need for cervical pretreatment prior to abortion.
In defending the bill, Rep. Jacqueline Michelle Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg) pointed out that its provisions were consistent with informed consent language presented to women at clinics before they undergo an abortion. And Rep. Jim Fulghum (R-Wake), a neurosurgeon, reminded the House that pre-term births are a huge problem in North Carolina. He also discouraged lawmakers from splitting hairs over the words “cause” and “risk” and said scientists all over the world had verified the link between abortion and pre-term births.
In other legislative news, the House gave a unanimous nod to Senate Bill 683 “Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking,” a bill that essentially turns the focus of the law from the victims of human trafficking to its perpetrators. It is designed to educate law enforcement and provide rehabilitation for the persons trafficked.
Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) gave a brief overview of the legislation during its consideration on the House floor, explaining that it is a rewrite of the statutes related to prostitution. He said that for the first time it was a comprehensive approach to penalties, allowing for second offenses to have stronger penalties. It also offers protection for minor and mentally retarded persons with deferred prosecution for 16 and 17 year olds providing non-secure custody.
“I am really happy about this legislation,” said Dr. Creech. “Though the development of this measure was undoubtedly a team effort, with many different groups coming to the table and weighing in, it brings me considerable pleasure in knowing that the Christian Action League has been at the heart of this effort. This may very well be the best bill this session.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for concurrence.
Gaming Nights for Non-Profits
Also Wednesday, House Judiciary Subcommittee A took a look at House Bill 809, Game Nights/Non-profit Fundraisers, but thankfully, took no action to move the bill forward.
Introduced by Rep. Jamie Boles (R-Moore), the bill would allow non-profit organizations to team with ABC permit holders to host casino nights where gamblers could play roulette, blackjack, poker, craps, keno and wheel of fortune to their hearts’ content provided they played for prizes, not cash, and that half of the proceeds wound up at the charity. Non-profits would be allowed to hold four events per year and facilities could host no more than two per month. Further, the game nights could not be held west of I-26 so as to prevent them from conflicting with the state’s compact with the Eastern Band of Cherokees.
While representatives from the N.C. Center for Nonprofits and the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association spoke in favor of the bill, Dr. Creech told the committee they should not underestimate the progressive nature of gaming in any form.
“I realize that the scope of this legislation is meant to be limited…,” he said. “Nevertheless, this bill is, as one of my friends has said in the past, ‘gambling on training wheels.'”
He said the game nights would set the stage for the unintended consequence of the spread of casinos across the state.
Jere Royal, with the North Carolina Family Policy Council, also warned of the bill’s dangers, explaining that it would allow the possession of otherwise illegal gambling equipment and encourage many for-profit gambling businesses to move into the state.
He said that in the 13 states that currently allow similar gaming events for non-profits, gambling had expanded far beyond what was initially allowed, while profits for charities had dropped to 4 to 5 percent of proceeds. He said gambling brings with it increases in crime, corruption, bankruptcy and other social woes.
Dr. Creech further pointed out the irony of using gambling as a fundraiser for charities when so many people have had to turn to charities for help because of their gambling.
Lawmakers on the committee peppered legislative legal staff with questions about how the bill would apply across the state and whether it would pass constitutional muster since it would treat organizations differently based on their geographic location.
Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) said that gambling could create an “entrance way for the mafia,” and Rep. Allen McNeill (R-Moore) said the bill would put an unreasonable burden on law enforcement by forcing local agencies to “investigate the PTA or the Kiwanis Club to make sure they didn’t spend over 50 percent in prizes or expenses.”
According to WRAL, Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford), the committee chairman, said Wednesday that it wasn’t clear whether the bill had the votes to pass out of committee.