House overturns abortion veto
RALEIGH (AP) ó Legislation placing additional restrictions on abortions moved within one step of becoming law after the Republican-led state House voted Tuesday to override Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdueís veto.
The House voted 72-47 in favor of legislation requiring a woman to have an ultrasound of the fetus, consider an offer to see the shape and hear a heartbeat in her uterus, receive state-mandated counseling, and wait 24 hours before an abortion.
The Senate must also approve a veto override by a three-fifths majority before the abortion regulations would become law. That means 30 votes if all 50 senators are present. The bill was supported by 29 of the Senateís 31 Republicans when it came up, with one GOP member opposed and one missing.
North Carolina is one of 16 states that donít require specialized counseling before an abortion. Half of all states require counseling, then a waiting period.
Perdue said she rejected the abortion restrictions as a needless government intrusion into what doctors tell women who have decided on a difficult choice. She repeated that objection Tuesday.
ěThe Republicanís social agenda has, with this bill, invaded a womanís life as never before ó by marching straight into her doctorís office and dictating the medical advice and treatment she receives,î she said in a statement.
The new restrictions would keep abortions legal and make them safer than before by requiring doctors and clinics to have insurance and backup plans, said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg.
Abortions also would become rarer ěbecause in the majority of other states where they already have some form of informed consent, women have changed their minds,î said Samuelson, one of the billís key advocates. ěWhat is so dangerous about information?î
House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, said the information was slanted to increase the pressure on women. The legislation was intended ěnot to give choice but to push toward a particular choice,î he said.
Democrats argued the restrictions were less about safety and full information than the Republican majority serving the political priorities of its supporters
ěWould we require a man to sit through intrusive, coercive counseling for a medical procedure mandated by politicians who donít trust them? Of course we would not,î said Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford. ěI was created from the womb of my mother just like every person here and my gender should not determine whether I or not I can make a decision what I could do with my body.î
The bill would prohibit an abortion unless a woman is provided with state-specified information about the physician at least 24 hours in advance. Women also would get information about the likely stage of development of the fetus, the medical risks of having an abortion and giving birth, and the availability of abortion alternatives. A woman would have to hear all of the details either in person or by telephone from a physician or nurse.
The legislation also increases the risk of lawsuits for doctors who perform abortions. Doctors who fail to follow all the new regulations could be sued by range of people including a woman who received an abortion or was close to getting one, her spouse, parent, sibling, or guardian, or any of the womanís current or former health care providers.
The measure passed the House last month one vote short of enough to override a veto but with support from three Democrats who also sided with the GOP to pass the state budget over Perdueís veto. Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, who also sided with Republicans on the budget and other override votes this week, cast the deciding vote on the abortion bill. He said Tuesday heís opposed to abortion but ěsort of strayedî by originally voting against the restrictions last month.
Anti-abortion activists sitting in the House gallery clapped after the vote was announced. Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, gaveled them to silence, but soon arrived outside the gallery to hug North Carolina Right to Life president Barbara Holt.
Holt and others who had sought abortion restrictions for decades in North Carolina had tears in their eyes as they embraced each other knowing that a legislative victory was now just one step away.
ěOftentimes women regret their abortion because they have not received the information thatís due to them,î Holt said. North Carolinians ěwant mothers to have information. They understand that there are two lives.î
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