North Carolina’s state Senate passed the second reading of the omnibus bill by 27-14. A final vote will be held Wednesday, The Huffington Post reports.
According to the bill, which was tacked onto another measure dealing with Islamic law, clinics which offer the procedure would have to meet license standards similar to those of ambulatory surgical centers.
Legislative staff revealed to reporters that only one clinic in North Carolina currently meets the requirements. The state’s four Planned Parenthood clinics don’t meet it. The bill would also oblige doctors to be present when women take drugs that induce abortions.
Sen. Warren Daniel, a Morganton Republican, said the discussed bill is necessary as it is required for women’s safety.
Women “deserve the right to walk into a clinic that’s clean and safe,” he said, adding that an abortion clinic in Charlotte that shut down earlier this year because of its improper drug administration.
Democrats said Republican arguments about safety were a sham, and the real incentive is to restrict abortions. “This is really about limiting women’s rights,” said Sen. Angela Bryant, a Rocky Mount Democrat.
Democrats were outraged that the abortion limits came up without public notice, in the late afternoon, and close to a holiday weekend.
The after-hours maneuvering is one of the reasons the people who protest at the Legislative Building every Monday feel disrespected, said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat.
“You’re going to win this debate and feel really good about yourself because you great big gray-haired men beat up on three women,” Nesbitt said, referring to three female Democratic senators who were in the chamber. “Let’s see what you do with 10,000 of them.”
Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, told reporters that legislators are simply trying to sneak through new restrictions they know the public doesn’t want.
“It seems to me that they’re trying to pass under cover of darkness legislation that would not otherwise be passed,” she said. “They’re trying to pull a Texas.”
A Texas state senator’s filibuster helped stop a vote on a sweeping abortion-limiting bill in that state last week.
“Some of the proposals in the bill have already passed the House in separate bills, such as a prohibition on sex-selective abortions and another that says health plans offered through the new federal health care exchange can’t cover abortion services,” explains News Observer.
“Abortion coverage in city and county employee health plans would be banned unless the procedure is needed to save the life of the mother or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest,” the publication reads.
The bill which includes provisions limiting use of the drug RU486, which induces what are called medical abortions, and the stepped-up requirements for clinics were debated for the first time earlier today.
Melissa Reed, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, informed that about half the abortions in North Carolina were done using RU486.
“The intention of the folks that made the changes to this bill is to end access to abortion care in North Carolina,” Reed said. “It’s a wish list of all the restrictions they’ve been trying to get through and weren’t able to during the regular time period of this session. It would end basically access to medical abortion; it could shut down a large number of providers in this state.”