By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Two pro-life bills moved forward in the Legislature this week. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services gave a favorable recommendation to the Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know Bill, and the House Transportation Committee approved a measure to allow Choose Life specialty license plates.
“The debate on H 854 — Woman’s Right to Know — was heated at times, but the chairman, Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) kept the discussion on track rather than allowing bill opponents to belabor arguments in favor of Planned Parenthood funding and greater access to birth control,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We’re thrilled to see this measure move forward as it has the potential to save many of the unborn from death and many mothers from lifelong regrets or physical side effects.”
Introduced by Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Cateret), the bill would require that women who seek abortion be informed of basic information such as the risks of abortion and pregnancy, the name of the abortion doctor and whether he or she has malpractice insurance, the location of the nearest hospital and the probable stage of development of the baby. It would mandate a 24-hour waiting period between the woman’s receipt of the information and the abortion and ensure that she is also informed, either in writing or via a Web site, of the social services available to her should she decide to carry the child to term. It would further require an ultrasound between 72 hours and 4 hours of the abortion, a real-time view of the fetus, which the woman would be allowed to watch if she so chose.
Finally, the bill would require that parents of girls under 18 give their notarized signature to indicate consent for the abortion. Parental signatures are already required, but under current law do not have to be notarized.
McElraft told fellow lawmakers that “choice is not true choice unless you have an educated choice.” She said many women undergo abortion without even knowing the doctor’s name or how far along they are in the pregnancy.
Samuelson said the bill “recognizes a woman’s need to have accurate information and to have it in a manner that gives her time to decide what she wants to do.”
“This is about women making very difficult decisions about their life, decisions that have short-term and long-term consequences, decisions that need to respect both her future and the future of her unborn child and what she may choose to do regarding that,” she said.
But opponents of the bill, which fiscal research staff estimated could cost some $7 million, primarily in Medicaid expenses for children who are not aborted, said the bill insults women by implying that they have not thought through their abortion decision.
Both Rep. Beverly Earle (D-Mecklenburg) and Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) promoted Planned Parenthood as the answer for women dealing with reproductive issues. And Rep. Diane Parfitt (D-Cumberland) insisted the state should be spending its money on preventing unwanted pregnancies.
But Burr was quick to remind fellow lawmakers that in her proposed budget, Gov. Bev Perdue cut $6.8 million out of local health departments which provide birth control. He also assured them that if we have more children living in the state as a result of fewer abortions, the Legislature would find a way to cover any additional costs.
Rep. Burt Jones (I-Rockingham) expressed similar sentiments.
“To me, it is incredible that we would even debate the idea that somehow we can improve the fiscal impact of this state by not allowing children to be born,” he said. “I’m a fiscal conservative, but if we’ve got to pay a little more money in this state because more children have the right to be born, then so be it.”
The Rev. Creech said, “Regardless of the projected cost provided by the fiscal note, the value of women being provided with full information that empowers them to make a true choice about abortion and the dramatic way this legislation is likely to cut the abortion rate is more than worth that cost.”
The measure passed the committee 6-4 and may soon be taken up on the House floor.
Earlier this past week, House Bill 289, which includes more than 50 new specialty license plates, among them “Choose Life,” won approval from the Transportation Committee. Under the bill, drivers could pay $25 for the Choose Life plate, $15 of which would go to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a network of non-profit agencies that offer counseling and other free services to pregnant women.
Proposed amendments designed to enforce restrictions on the pregnancy resource centers, including one that would have mandated that they post a notice making clear that they don’t refer women for abortion, failed.
The bill, which also includes specialty plates for everything from raptor centers to credit unions, is now headed to the House Finance Committee. If it becomes law, at least 300 applications for the Choose Life plates would be needed before the tags could be produced.
Supporters, who have pushed for the Choose Life plates for nearly a decade without having their bill heard, are confident there would be no shortage of applications.
Choose Life plates are already on the road or approved in 26 states with over 573,000 sold or renewed and more than $13.6 million raised, according to Choose Life Inc.