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This morning’s North Carolina news media “must read” comes from Greensboro News & Record  columnist Susan Ladd. In her column, Ladd explains exactly why the latest manufactured smear campaign against Planned Parenthood is just that:

“Because of its nationwide network of providers, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion services in the country, but abortions amount to only 3 percent of the health services this group provides.

The most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood were videos purporting to show the group’s ‘procuring baby parts for profit.’

The Center for Medical Progress, which shot these heavily edited undercover videos, is not a medical organization but a political one, founded to create inflammatory ‘sting’ videos of Planned Parenthood.

David Daleiden, the project leader for the videos has a history of creating deceptively edited videos. One of CMP’s board members is Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who in 2003, called the murder of an abortion doctor “a justifiable defensive action.”

Abortion rights groups and some U.S. senators are asking that CMP be investigated for false representation and misleading the IRS when it applied for tax-exempt status….

But the smear campaign hasn’t abated. CMP continues to release more of its videos, and politicians continue to site them over and over in trying to sway opinion and public policy.

I’m sad to say that some of our local elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-Guilford) and Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are among them.

Unfortunately, a lie repeated often enough still will persuade some of the people — especially those who want to believe it. And the truth, determined over time by impartial investigations, never has the shock value or leaves quite as much of an impression as those sensational videos.”

Fortunately, the lies aren’t achieving their intended objective -harming Planned Parenthood. As Ladd notes:

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Commentary

Nobody wants there to be more abortions in North Carolina. The issue is women’s health and the fact that thousands of women every year must grapple with unintended pregnancies. Happily, as the lead editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer reminds us, there is a way to get after both problems: readily accessible birth control:

“The number of abortions in North Carolina has been dropping sharply even as Republican legislators step up efforts to make the procedure more difficult to obtain.

The decline was documented in an Associated Press survey of 45 states that keep abortion records. North Carolina had the nation’s second-biggest drop with the number of abortions falling 26 percent from 2010 to 2013. Nationwide, the survey showed a decrease in abortions of about 12 percent since 2010.”

But, as the editorial also notes:

“There’s no evidence that women choosing against abortion because of new state restrictions are numerous enough to account for the drop. The Associated Press survey found that abortions also were down in states that haven’t tightened their laws. The biggest decrease in abortion, percentage-wise, was in Hawaii, a state with relatively liberal abortion policies….

What is accounting for the decrease in abortions is a decrease in the condition that precedes an abortion: pregnancy. In North Carolina, according to the latest statistics available, reported pregnancies dropped from 148,922 in 2010 to 139,582 in 2013. Abortions likewise fell from 30,952 to 22,820.”

In other words:

“The way to further reduce abortion in North Carolina isn’t to cut funding for Planned Parenthood but to increase funding for sex education and contraception.”

What a tragedy it is that those who fight to ban abortion and send women back to the back alleys (are you listening Governor McCrory?) can’t at least see this reality and join the effort to stop unintended pregnancies from happening in the first place.

Commentary

Pat McCrory 4On Wednesday evening, Governor McCrory stated that he is planning on signing the controversial House Bill 465 when it reaches his desk. The Governor’s statement came hours after the House voted 71 to 43 to make the bill, which includes a 72-hour abortion waiting period, law in North Carolina.

The Governor’s decision came as a shock to those who had trusted him to stay true to his word. During his 2012 campaign, McCrory promised he would not sign any additional restrictions on abortions into law. However in 2013, he signed a bill creating unnecessary regulations for abortion clinics and further restricting insurance coverage of abortions. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it was expected that when faced with a blatant abortion restriction, the Governor would veto the bill. It is clear now that McCrory has no intention of keeping his campaign promise. He is happy with the revised version of the bill; he has declared that it will positively protect women’s health. (Scroll down to see the video of the Governor’s now blatantly broken 2012 pledge and his explanation of the first time he went back on it).

The HB 465 that the Governor plans to sign looks nothing like the bill that was first introduced in April, with one exception: the mandated 72-hour waiting period.

The initial version of the bill included strong restrictions on the ability of doctors and UNC system hospitals to perform safe abortions. The final version leaves out the restrictions on UNC but adds in tougher laws against statutory rape and sex offenses. It also adds protections for victims of domestic violence. With the second edition of the bill, it appeared that the Legislature had realized the error of their ways and the absurdity of preventing one of the best ob-gyn programs in the country from teaching this family planning skill. Unfortunately, that clarity did not last long. Within weeks, without providing a reason, the Republican-controlled Senate decided to dump unrelated criminal justice provisions into the bill.

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Commentary

Durham physicians David Grimes and Amy Bryant authored an excellent op-ed for this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer that aptly describes the new abortion waiting period bill recently adopted by the state House. This is from the essay;

“These delays translate into increased risk and expense. No medical justification exists for these waiting periods, and paradoxically they can cause harm: While abortion is an extremely safe procedure, it is safest when done as early as possible in the pregnancy. Thus, HB465 could have the unintended consequence of causing abortion complications.”

The doctors offered these real life examples from their practices:

“One of our patients was a young mother of two whose abusive boyfriend hit her multiple times in the abdomen while pregnant. She made the courageous decision to leave that relationship, get a restraining order and have an abortion. Having to wait three days after contacting the clinic could have put her life in jeopardy if her partner had discovered her plans. Another patient had a desired pregnancy but learned that her fetus had no kidneys. It would not survive if born. The diagnosis was not made until she was at the upper gestational-age limit for abortion. Having to wait another three days would have meant that she would need to travel out of state, at great expense, to have her procedure.”

They concluded this way:

“HB465 is bad medicine. The World Health Organization advises, “Once the decision is made by the woman, abortion should be provided as soon as is possible to do so.” Thus, HB465 directly contradicts the medical advice of the World Health Organization.

Groucho Marx once commented that, ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.’ His critique certainly applies to HB465. Medical care should be directed by licensed physicians and other health professionals, not by part-time politicians unaware of the realities of medical practice. North Carolinians deserve better.”

Read the entire op-ed by clicking here.

Commentary

(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