Proponents Argue NC Senate's Approval of Pro-Life Package Protects Women's Health
North Carolina's Republican-controlled Senate voted Wednesday to pass a set of abortion restrictions which heighten requirements for abortion facilities in the state, a move which proponents of the bill say will protect women's health.
The package of anti-abortion amendments is attached to a bill which outlaws an interpretation of Shariah law in the state's family court, known as House Bill 695.
The bill's abortion restrictions include stricter regulation on a doctor's administering of abortion-inducing medication, as well as higher requirements for abortion clinics, similar to the requirements of outpatient surgical facilities.
Additionally, the bill's text indicates that the amendments seek to limit abortion coverage under the state's health benefit exchanges with the federal Affordable Care Act.
The abortion restrictions were reportedly attached to House Bill 695 late Tuesday evening, and were voted on Wednesday with a 29 to 12 vote of approval.
Those supporting the bill argued that it seeks to protect women's health and improve abortion facilities in the state.
"We're not here today taking away the rights of women," Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Morganton) said during Wednesday's debate of the bill, according to The News & Observer.
"We're taking away the rights of an industry to have substandard conditions."
During the bill's debate, state Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) also argued for the improved conditions of abortion facilities in the state.
"We can't allow an assembly-line procedure that lets doctors run down the hall as they administer death," Hise said, as reported by local news station WRAL.
Those opposing the bill argue that the public was not given enough notification regarding the vote and that the Senate unfairly rushed the abortion measures on Tuesday evening to prompt a swift approval without public backlash.
Those opposing the bill were reportedly not aware that the bill would be debated on Tuesday evening, and only heard of Tuesday evening's vote via Facebook and Twitter.
By Wednesday morning an estimated 600 people showed up to protest the bill at the Senate Chamber, according to The News & Observer.
North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory voiced his concern that the Senate had attempted to slyly pass the abortion restriction bill.
"When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business," McCrory said in a statement regarding House Bill 695, as reported by The Huffington Post. "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."
Anti-abortion legislation is currently sweeping the U.S. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry convened a special session to address a bill which would ban abortions past 20 weeks in the state.
On Wednesday, the House State Affairs Committee approved the bill on an 8-3 party-line vote, and the bill is now being sent to the entire Texas House for a vote next week.
In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich also recently signed new abortion restrictions as a part of the state's new $62 billion state budget.
In response to Ohio's new abortion restrictions, Marilyn Musgrave, vice president of federal affairs for the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, told The Washington Post that America is seeking stricter requirements for abortion clinics following the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion doctor who was convicted of first-degree murder of three newborns and the involuntary manslaughter of one of his patients at his abortion clinic in the east coast city.
"This has been a year where the curtain has been pulled back, when people have taken another look at abortion," Musgrave told The Washington Post.
In response to the North Carolina anti-abortion amendment package, Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, a pro-life group, told The News & Observer that she and her organization do not want to see North Carolina become the "Gosnell of the South."
"The bill today is about protecting women's health. It's about making abortion clinics safe. We don't want to become the Gosnell of the South. We're firmly behind the bill," Fitzgerald stressed.
North Carolina's Senate Bill 695 will now go to a House vote.
Pro-life activist groups are also working to have pro-life legislation passed in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.