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(This post has been updated) The House Health Committee just passed a new anti-abortion bill this morning. The revised House Bill 465, which was unveiled just minutes before the meeting this morning (the current version isn’t even available online yet), includes a 72 hour waiting period for women seeking this particular health procedure. Only two other states have such an an onerous requirement. Pro-choice advocates at NARAL Pro-Choice NC, who were completely denied an opportunity even to be heard this morning during the 45 minute meeting, issued the following statement:

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Statement: H.B. 465 in NO Way Helps Women

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina opposes House Bill 465 because it will not help women. The bill’s 72-hour abortion waiting period regulation is medically unnecessary. We are disappointed that at today’s House Health Committee meeting, only one pro-choice speaker was allowed to be heard. We brought a number of physicians and medical professionals prepared to speak to the problems with this bill and their information was never allowed to reach House Committee members.

H.B. 465 would make it harder for women, who have made a choice about their own body, by making them wait 72 hours, instead of the current 24 hour period, between asking for an abortion and being legally permitted to get one. Mandatory delay laws such as these would endanger women’s health and create additional burdens for North Carolina women, especially women in rural areas who often have to travel for many hours to reach a health-care provider, and for women who do not have the resources to take extra time off work or to pay for child-care. According to a study conducted in Texas, on average women travel 42 miles to visit their nearest clinic (although some women had to travel up to 400 miles) and incur an average of $146 in costs to the additional waiting period. These restrictions have a disproportional impact on low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women. Women who want to get abortions but are denied are three times more likely to fall into poverty than those who can get an abortion, according to recent studies.

The study also showed that waiting periods do not do anything to sway women’s decisions about terminating a pregnancy, but are simply emotional manipulation tactics to shame women and make them feel guilty about making decisions about their own bodies. One third of the participants in the study said the waiting period negatively affected their well-being. Read More

Commentary

Women’s advocates at NARAL Pro-Choice NC, N.C. Women United, NC NOW and Progress NC will be delivering petitions to Senator Thom Tillis’ office in Raleigh this afternoon. This is from the new release (which also includes a link to new and encouraging polling numbers — see after the page break):

Thousands Demand Senators Tillis and Burr Protect Sex Trafficking Survivors Now, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and Local Leaders to Deliver Petitions

Sen. Tillis’ Office in Raleigh, NC to be Inundated with Petitions on Wednesday at 2:00PM

On Wednesday April 8, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Progress NC Action, NC NOW (National Organization for Women), and NC Women United, will deliver thousands of petitions to the district office of Senator Tillis telling him to stop playing politics and pass a clean Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act for the health and safety of exploited women and children.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue had this to say:

“Instead of pushing for the immediate care that survivors of sex trafficking need, Senators Tillis and Burr are treating them like political pawns by stalling this important bill to advance their anti-choice agenda. Given that thousands of American women and children are coerced into performing commercial sex acts for the financial gain of criminals every year, the with banning abortion regardless of individual circumstances is incredibly dangerous. We will accept nothing less than unfettered access to a full range of reproductive health care services for trafficking survivors from our representatives in Congress.”

WHAT: Petition delivery calling for a clean Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
WHO: NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and local leaders
WHEN: April 8, 2:00PM
WHERE: 310 New Bern Avenue Raleigh, NC 27601

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Executive Director, Shoshannah Sayers had this to say: Read More

Commentary

Abortion protestWomen’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies took another blow yesterday and this time the strike was aimed at doctors too.

While proponents of women’s rights were still reeling from the anti-abortion Senate bill filed last week, HB 465 was introduced, yesterday, containing the most restrictive proposed abortion restrictions North Carolina has seen in a long time.

As is typical with anti-abortion bills, the new laws would make it harder for women, who have made a choice about their own body, by making them wait 72 hours, instead of the current 24 hour period, between asking for an abortion and being legally permitted to get one.

According to NARAL Pro-Choice NC:

[M]andatory delay laws such as these would endanger women’s health and “create additional burdens for North Carolina women, especially women in rural areas who often have to travel for many hours to reach a health-care provider, and for women who do not have the resources to take extra time off work or to pay for child-care.”

The real dagger in the bill, however, is how it would dictate doctor’s rights to make decisions based on his or her own ethics and education. Almost every provision of the bill would narrow the pool of doctors available to perform abortions, until North Carolina is left with zero doctors able to perform safe abortions—which is obviously the intent of the bill’s sponsors.

Read More

Commentary

Renee EllmersAs Suzanne Buckley of NARAL Pro Choice NC wrote on the main Policy Watch page yesterday, today is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision — a great time for people committed to freedom and women’s health to recommit themselves to the cause.

And, happily, such efforts can begin with at least a modest celebration this morning: Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and some other GOP women appear to have raised the ire of anti-choice extremists this week by having the temerity to challenge one among many dangerous provisions in an anti-abortion bill that was being advanced in the U.S. House.

This is from the this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“House Republican leaders, faced with an uprising within their ranks over a controversial abortion bill, pulled it Wednesday evening before it was scheduled for a vote Thursday to coincide with the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1974 Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., had led a group of Republican lawmakers who disagreed with part of a bill that would ban most abortions at 20 weeks or later.

Ellmers and Walorski on Tuesday officially withdrew their support for the bill, and House Republican leaders scrambled to address the concerns of the two lawmakers and a group of other Republicans. Late Wednesday night, the GOP House leadership replaced the bill with one that would end federal funding for abortions.”

The ironically-named North Carolina Values Coalition decried Ellmers’ action as a “betrayal.”

Good for Ellmers. While it would be of a lot better if she would just speak up publicly and renounce the mean-spirited folly of the entire GOP anti-reproductive freedom drive, her recent actions are better than nothing. Let’s hope it’s the start of a more ambitious connection to common sense on the whole issue of reproductive freedom on her part.

Click here to read Suzanne Buckley’s excellent essay.

Commentary

Reproductive rightsThe state Department of Health and Human Services will be holding a hearing this Friday morning on new proposed abortion provider regulations. As explained in this recent post by the good people at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, there is actually cause for optimism that the rules will not unduly burden women’s health. That said, anti-choice advocates are banging the drum to alter the proposed regs in a negative way and, as a result, advocates for women’s health will gather Friday on site in support of keeping the new regulations safe and sane.

This is from an alert sent out by the good people at Progress NC:

December 19: Put Women’s Health First!

The NC Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new regulations on abortion providers. The Department has included the input of women’s healthcare providers throughout the rulemaking process, and we need to stay vigilant and make sure that any new regulations put women’s health FIRST.

That’s why Planned Parenthood in NC, NARAL Pro-Choice NC, ACLU-NC, NC Women United, NC NOW, NC Women Matter and Progress NC need you to join us on Friday, December 19 at Dorothea Dix Campus, Brown Building, Room 104, 801 Biggs Drive, Raleigh, NC.

Click here for more information.