Shoshannah Sayers, Esq., Interim Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice NC
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 due 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 effected their well-being.
In the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casy, Justice John Paul Stevens pointed out that mandatory waiting periods rest “on outmoded or unacceptable assumptions about the decision-making capacity of women.” The message being sent by state legislatures, essentially, is “you must be crazy if you want to obtain an abortion — maybe think about it some more and you’ll come to your senses.”
Suffice it to say that safe medical procedures sought by men, such as vasectomies, are not burdened with such waiting periods.
The bill also increases burdens for the doctors who assist women by performing abortions.
Doctors will have to record detailed information about the “unborn child” including gestational age and ultrasounds with measurements. The bill would even require extensive records from doctors who perform an abortion for the health and safety of the mother. This information would then be submitted to DHHS but only after the doctors have taken the time to remove all identifying information. The only purpose for these rules seem to be to add in so many requirements that abortions will be too much of a hassle for doctors to perform.
In summary, H.B. 465 in NO way helps North Carolina women and families.
Shoshannah Sayers, Esq.
Interim Executive Director
NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina