NC Senate passes abortion bill; McCrory slams process - WFLA News Channel 8

NC Senate passes abortion bill; McCrory slams process

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    How to contact key NC politicians

    Wednesday, July 3 2013 3:55 PM EDT2013-07-03 19:55:36 GMT
    Want to have your voice heard in the abortion debate? Here are some key contacts in North Carolina government.Gov. Pat McCrory Twitter: @PatMcCroryNC Phone:  (919) 814-2000 Mailing address: Office of the
    Want to have your voice heard in the abortion debate? Here are some key contacts in North Carolina government.Gov. Pat McCrory Twitter: @PatMcCroryNC Phone:  (919) 814-2000 Mailing address: Office of the

Senate Republicans gave their final approval to legislation requiring additional rules surrounding abortions in North Carolina Wednesday, even as hundreds of protesters against the bill watched from the gallery and many more expressed their frustration after the vote.
The Senate voted 29-12 for the measure that would direct regulators to change abortion clinic rules so they're similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers. The bill would still need House approval, which couldn't happen until at least next week.

Protesters chanted "Shame! Shame! Shame!' at the Legislative building. Outside, a sign read, "Stop the war on women!" And another urged that the government "keep politicians out of the doctor-patient relationship."

Gov. Pat McCrory said he was unhappy with the process.

"When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business," McCrory said in a statement. "It was not right then and it is not right now.  Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough."

McCrory did not address whether he would support the bill in his statement. Spokeswoman Kim Genardo said McCrory would need to "thoroughly review" the bill if it reached his desk.

At a Senate committee meeting Tuesday, Republicans rolled out a House bill that originally focused on restricting the use of foreign laws in state courts but that they packed with abortion restrictions contained in other bills or that are new to the General Assembly this year.

How to reach key N.C. politicians

That bill drew intense debate Wednesday morning. Sen. Josh Stein of Wake County said the bill was an effort to undermine "a constitutionally protected medical procedure."

He also said the bill would give more authority to the state, at the expense of local authorities, and called it "one more example of you here in Raleigh telling local people" what to do.

The galleries were full Wednesday as many came out to watch what happened on the floor. About 10 a.m., Lt. Gov. Dan Forest banged the gavel forcefully and demanded that those in the gallery both remain silent and stop any gestures that might impact the debate.

"I've been more than fair to the gallery," Forest said in stern tones. "We appreciate you being here, but you have to do it in a silent manner and in a way that doesn't disturb the senators."

The bill drew a strong rebuke from Sen. Angela Bryant, a Democrat from Rocky Mount. Bryant said of the bill, "This process is without integrity to have snuck in these provisions in an area where we know the issues are very controversial."

Speaking for women, she said, "This effort to dominate us will not succeed."

But Sen. Trudy Wade of Guilford told the Senate, "I see nothing in this bill that limits my rights as a woman."

And Sen. Warren Daniel brought up the case of a Pennsylvania abortion doctor, Dr Kermit Gosnell, who is accused of keeping feet from the fetuses that had been aborted.

Daniel said there was a lot of rhetoric and misinformation from the other side. Daniel said the bill doesn't take away the rights of women but takes away the rights of an industry to have substandard conditions.

Sen. Ben Clark questioned why the bill was needed and referred to Daniel's point about problems in Pennsylvania.

"We haven't heard about any problems in the state of North Carolina," he said. "I'd like to see where the problems are we're trying to solve."

He added, "I have no right to tell a woman of man what to do about a pregnancy. It's not about safety - that's a farce.

But Sen. Chad Barefoot rose to give examples of clinics in North Carolina that had failed inspections.

Democrat Martin Nesbitt said Republicans put the bill forward just before the July Fourth holiday in hopes that people weren't paying attention. And he said the Senate was turning its back "on half the people in this state."

Senate leader Phil Berger said, "We can pretend everything is hunky dory in clinics but it is not . We have obligation to give some safe abortions."

And Sen. Tom Apodaca said, "If we continued to debate for two weeks, the results would be the same."

Berger said the bill has common-sense protections for women in North Carolina.

The committee passed the bill Tuesday, which later received tentative approval from the full Senate on a largely 27-14 party-line vote, with nine senators absent for the vote.

Slideshow from abortion debate, protest

The House also would have to approve the measure, a portion of which already passed earlier this year, before it could go to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. The Republican governor said during last fall's campaign he wasn't interested in signing additional abortion restrictions into law.
Wednesday's vote was the latest example of the influence of social conservatives in the legislature, which Republicans took control of after the 2010 elections. It follows moves by several other Republican-led legislatures to place new restrictions on abortion, in some cases effectively limiting their availability.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed abortion restrictions in 2011, some of which were struck down by a federal court. Democrats lambasted Republicans for their latest push.
The legislation in part would direct state regulators to change clinic rules so they're similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers. Other states have passed similar restrictions that are difficult and expensive for abortion providers to carry out, said Melissa Reed with Planned Parenthood Health Systems.
The bill "has the potential to shut down providers across the state," Reed said RywasT. "Abortion is one of the most common and safe medical procedures done in the United States and in North Carolina. It is already heavily regulated."
During a televised debate last October, McCrory was asked which additional abortion restrictions he would agree to sign into law. McCrory responded simply, "None."
Woodard urged McCrory to block the bill if it comes to his desk, saying aloud on the floor, "Governor, the women of North Carolina are counting on your to keep your commitment."
The bill also would require a physician performing a surgical abortion to be physically present during the entire procedure and be present when a woman takes a pill like RU-486 to induce an abortion. Reed said the requirement would make it harder for physician to take care of more patents.
Provisions that already passed the House and were added to the Senate bill would:
- prohibit the carrying out of abortions on the basis of the gender of the fetus. A doctor could be sued for damages. A court could fine physicians who don't comply with court orders against the practice.
- outlaw private health care plans that include abortion services, with some exceptions, from future health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
- forbid counties and cities from including abortion coverage that's greater than that provided in the state employee health insurance plan.
- allow any medical professional to refuse to participate in an abortion and not just doctors and nurses.
- prohibit North Carolina judges or agencies from applying part of any foreign law - such as Islamic Sharia law - or other legal systems that would lead to violations of constitutional rights in domestic and child custody cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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