NC lawmaker foresees anti-abortion measures ahead

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 21, 2013

RALEIGH (AP) — Proposals that would exclude abortion coverage from federal health insurance exchanges and outlaw abortions based on gender preferences may go before lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly in the upcoming session, a state lawmaker says.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam said a law is being drafted to remove abortions from the health care exchange. He said lawmakers also will need to consider a similar bill to ban abortions based on sex selection.
“There is a law being drafted to remove abortions from the health care exchange,” the Apex Republican said, adding that such a proposal likely would be introduced in the Senate. He said a “sex-selection” law is another strong possibility.
“In North Carolina you can get an abortion for any reason, including sex-selection abortions,” Stam said. “That’s something we’ve got to deal with.”
Stam addressed a crowd Saturday at an anti-abortion rally in Nash Square in Raleigh.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, 24 states already have acted to ban insurance coverage of abortions by state insurance exchanges. Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina said the prospect of the state joining that list hardly surprises her.
“There were 11 anti-choice bills introduced and six laws passed last legislative session, and we expect this session to be even worse,” Buckley said.
Among the recently enacted laws in North Carolina is the Women’s Right to Know Act, which requires a 24-hour waiting period and “informed consent,” including a recitation of every potential medical or psychological risk known to be associated with having an abortion.
The bill also requires that an ultrasound be performed and the pregnant woman given the opportunity to view her unborn child and hear its heartbeat. In addition, information is to be provided about programs and resources that potentially could assist the woman if she changes her mind and decides to have the child. A federal judge has blocked the ultrasound requirement pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the law.
Physician Amy Bryant, who provides abortions to women through her Chapel Hill practice, said laws like the Right to Know Act “make it harder for poor women,” but do little to reduce the number of abortions overall.
“I see women from all walks of life, every socioeconomic stratum and every family situation you can imagine,” she said.
She said women seek abortions for a wide variety of reasons, including health-threatening pregnancy complications, pregnancies stemming from sexual assault, and concerns about their psychological or financial ability to provide for the child. She said waiting periods drive up costs for women who have to travel to another city or county to find an abortion provider.
“The abortion restrictions passed over the last year or two are nothing but attacks on women’s health and dignity,” Bryant said.