Ford one of three sponsors of state bill that bans abortions after 12 weeks

Published 12:10 am Sunday, May 14, 2023

RALEIGH — Sen. Carl Ford is one of three Republican sponsors of the “Care For Women, Children and Families Act,” a controversial bill passed in the General Assembly last week that bans abortions after 12 weeks.

Ford is a staunch pro-life supporter, making it a main campaign issue. He did not return phone calls before deadline for this article, but has made numerous comments about banning abortion on his Facebook account over the years, as well as in his weekly newsletters he sends to constituents. On his website it also states that he “is pro-life and pro-family. As a father and grandfather he understands how precious human life truly is. He has stood firm on this belief and worked hard to ensure that the sanctity of human life is preserved.”

According to a press release sent by Ford from the North Carolina Senate Republicans, Senate Bill 20 limits elective abortions in the second and third trimester, establishes both an exception for rape and incest through 20 weeks, and an exception if the baby is not expected to survive through 24 weeks. It also maintains an exception for an abortion if it saves the life of the mother.

When it comes to health care standards, the bill makes the following changes to existing regulations:

  • It requires that any abortion performed after the first trimester must be performed in hospitals.
  • Clinics that perform surgical abortions also must now meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, which are facilities where surgeries that do not require a hospital admission are performed.
  • Doctors must provide care to babies who have survived a botched procedure and any physician who does not will be hit with a Class D felony and $250,000 fine.
  • Abortions based on a baby’s sex, race or if they are expected to have Down Syndrome are prohibited.
  • Maintains the current law that abortion-inducting drugs must be administered in person by a doctor. Any person or organization caught mailing, supplying or providing abortion-inducing drugs to a women is subject to a $5,000 fine per violation. There will also be a $5,000 fine per violation for illegally advertising abortion-inducing drugs to women.
  • Requires that a consent process must be completed in-person and at least 72 hours before any surgical or medical abortion.

It also includes financial provisions, allocating $75 million to expand access to child care across the state and almost $59 million will go to foster care, kinship care and children’s homes. Twenty million will be used to pay for maternity and paternity leave for teachers and state employees, $7 million will go to increase access to long-lasting, reversible birth control for underserved, uninsured or medically impoverished patients, and $3 million will go to help mothers and fathers complete community college. The bill also provides more than $16 million to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

The bill also increases criminal punishment for assaults on pregnant women and creates a new misdemeanor crime for domestic violence. Certain repeat and violent sexual offenders will have to submit to lifetime GPS monitoring, instead of only 10 years.

According to a survey conducted by the right-leaning organization Carolina Partnership for Reform, 57 percent of North Carolinians are in favor of legislation to prohibit abortions after the first trimester with exceptions for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger.

But other groups have voiced opposition, including the North Carolina Medical Society which released a statement urging the General Assembly “to reconsider the decision to vote quickly on SB 20 to allow time for thorough and careful consideration of this most complicated and life-changing issue.”

Part of the statement reads:

“SB 20 interferes in the doctor-patient relationship. SB20 is administratively burdensome and proposes a complex set of regulations that are not evidence-based and will impede patient access to medical care. In addition to limiting access to safe clinical care, this measure will also create new causes of action against those who are striving to provide their patients with medical care that is in the best interest of the patient. SB20 creates unnecessary additional administrative burdens for physicians at a time when access to care is a challenge to many in our state and when physicians are reporting unprecedented levels of burnout.”

Governor Roy Cooper is expected to veto the bill next week, but Republicans hold a super majority in both the Senate and the House and could override Cooper’s veto if they have enough support. Cooper has called for several Republicans who campaigned on not changing the existing state laws on abortion to resist the override.