Legislative Lowdown: The Latest on Anti-Choice Legislation at the NCGA

TGIF Y’All, TGIF.

This week, lawmakers in the General Assembly have pulled out all of the stops to try and damage the reproductive rights of women and teenagers in our state. Below you’ll find recap of four of the bills we’ve been working hard to defeat.

SB 132 passed committee Wednesday and was up for a vote in the Senate Thursday, it passed second reading, will likely have it’s final senate vote on Monday night:  SB 132 was the first anti-choice bill proposed by the NCGA this session. I wrote about it way back when here. This is a bill that would amend the Healthy Youth Act to require that young people be taught anti-choice propaganda in schools. Specifically, the bill would require that children be taught that abortion could lead to pre-term birth in subsequent pregnancies. This, in spite the fact that experts from the Center for Disease Control, The World Health Organization, and the American Medical Association have found no correlation between abortion care and pre-term deliveries. The original bill has been amended to reflect objections made by some of the Democratic Senators present. You can read about it here, but the main thing is that the bill will now require sex education curriculum to include abortion, among other potential “causes” of pre-term birth. This, in spite of the fact that no scientific study has established causation between abortion and pre-term birth later in life. To be clear, the amendment does nothing to change our opinion of this bill.

HB 693 was up for a vote in the House on Wednesday but was pulled from the calendar and referred back to the Judiciary Committee: I wrote on this blog Tuesday about HB 693, the parental consent bill. On Tuesday, that bill passed the Health and Human Services committee along party lines, 14 to 8. Not only did the bill pass, but in committee, it was amended, and it is now even more extreme. Now, the bill requires notarized written parental consent in order for a teen to seek out abortion care, or prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of STD/STIs, mental health, pregnancy, or substance abuse. It seems like a teenager might need to show up every month with notarized parental consent to refill her birth control. We know this is bad for our state. The research is very clear on this issue. And the extremists in the NCGA know that we know this too, that’s why they are rushing this bill through. According to APPCNC, teen pregnancy in North Carolina is at an all-time low, and between 2010 to 2011, teen pregnancy declined 12%. This decrease is attributed to increased use of contraception. This bill received a lot of backlash this week, which is a great sign, but we will  continue to work with our partners to raise the alarm about this bad bill.

HB 716 passed the house in a 79-40 vote on Tuesday. I’ve written here about 716 before, and there have been a couple of other stories that get at what is awful about this bill. The gist of it is this: Sex Selection bans like HB 716 claim to be about gender discrimination, but in fact, do nothing to alter the material realities of gender inequality. Moreover, HB 716 and other bills like it, erode doctor patient confidentiality, and take away a woman’s right to make her own personal health care decisions, without the threat of judgment or suspicion. The bill will be assigned to a Senate committee in the coming weeks.

HB 730 will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee at 10am next Wednesday. This news broke last night, just as it seemed we might be making some progress on HB 693. Drat! HB 730 is a Health Care refusal bill. It would vastly expand who can refuse to provide reproductive health care services and who qualifies as a “religious employer” for the purpose of refusing to cover health care services and benefits. In short, this is a bill that would allow your boss to decide s/he isn’t covering any birth control through your insurance plan. You can read the full text of bill here.

Stay tuned! Crossover is next Thursday. If a bill hasn’t passed in either the House or the Senate by Crossover (this year, May 16), it is effectively “dead” for the remainder of the session. You can bet the conservative majority doesn’t want any of the bills mentioned above to simply “die.” So they will act fast, and we will try our darndest to act faster 🙂

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