North Carolina Panel Passes Women’s Right to Know Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2011   |   5:56PM   |   Charlotte, NC

Legislation that North Carolina lawmakers approved today essentially says women should be given information about abortion’s risks and alternatives they don’t normally receive from abortion clinics.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee B recommended the bill Wednesday on a 9-5 vote that broke along party lines. The panel approved the Woman’s Right to Know bill, H 854, that other states have passed and that has been proven to reduce abortions. When women are given information about abortion that Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses don’t routinely provide, they frequently consider alternatives.

North Carolina is one of 16 states that doesn’t require a waiting period and counseling before an abortion. The law would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn child at least four hours before an abortion and abortion centers that don’t provide the information to women can be subject to a civil lawsuit.

“It’s just what’s necessary to be medically informed,” said House Majority Leader Paul Stam, a Republican, according to AP, while Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat, was one of those to vote no.

AP indicates Sylinthia Stewart, 45, of Fayetteville, supported the bill because she had three abortions in four states and never got any information about how it would affect her and destroy the life of a unique human being.

“Black women need to be educated. We are the ones they are hiding the truth from. I am sorry about your circumstance, but that does not give anyone else the right to hide it from me,” said Stewart, who backed the measure. “This bill will protect black women. The women who actually have abortions need more information.”

During the committee hearing, according to the Asheville Citizen Times, Melissa Reed, the vice president for public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems in North Carolina, opposed the bill, as did Rep. Susan Fisher, a Democrat.

“Basically, this bill is just bad medicine and bad policy,” Reed claimed.  “It’s an outrageous intrusion into the sacred doctor-patient relationship. Legislators should not be in that exam room at all.”

But Danielle Hallenbeck, of Angier, supported the bill and talked about the abortion she had in 1993 saying she was never told how long she had been pregnant and the abortion business gave her no information or counseling beforehand.

The newspaper quoted her saying, “The only words that he said to me — while he was doing the procedure — was: ‘You’re further along than we thought.’ Those words haunt me to this day.”

North Carolina Right to Life president Barb Holt says the pro-life group strongly supports the legislation.

“This bill will provide women considering abortion with all the facts to make an informed decision 24 hours before an abortion,” she explained. “It will also ensure that she can view the ultrasound of her unborn child. Many women who later regret their abortions say seeing the ultrasound would have helped them choose birth rather than abortion for their unborn children.”

Holt says the bill will also ensure better enforcement of the state’s parental involvement law because it would “close a loophole that allows minors to forge their parent’s signature without the abortion provider having to verify that the parent has actually signed the consent for abortion form.”

“Similar laws in other states have saved many thousands of unborn children from abortion and their mothers from making a decision many later regret. We have the opportunity to save thousands of lives in our state by passing this bill,” Holt says.

Reps. Ruth Samuelson and Pat McElraft have introduced the Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know legislation, which Holt says is the top legislative priority for her group this session.

“Many women who undergo abortions later face years of psychological pain and trauma.  Some experience physical problems. A woman needs to be aware that abortion does not offer an easy escape from her problems. Often, it only complicates them,” Holt said. “Informed consent legislation is not an attack on a personal freedom, but a guarantee of it.  It is constitutionally and legally sound.  It safeguards a woman’s right to know and to make informed decisions, helps protect physicians from lawsuits, and is a reasoned and compassionate response to the needs of concerned pregnant women.”

Holt indicates approximately 30,000 abortions are done annually in North Carolina and she believes there could be a few thousand less abortions after the law is enacted.

All bills must meet a June 9 crossover deadline by which they must be approved in one chamber of the legislature or they die for the session, which has Holt urging pro-life advocates to contact their state legislators today to urge support for the pro-life measure.

ACTION:  Contact your legislators to urge support for the bill.