As debate raged in the House yesterday about SB2, which would allow magistrates to refuse to facilitate same-sex marriages, the Senate Judiciary Committee discussed and advanced a modified version of HB465. From the House bill, this version retained the extension of the waiting period for an abortion to 72 hours and the reporting requirements to the Department of Health and Human Services for physicians performing abortions late in the second trimester. The substitute bill added several unrelated provisions, including Democratic Sen. Jeff Jackson’s two bills modifying statutory rape and sex offender laws in North Carolina. Sen. Jackson’s motion to divorce these provisions from the bill, in an attempt to avoid “gotcha” type strategies and playing politics with important issues, was denied during the committee meeting.
In a packed room, the Senate Judiciary Committee debated why the reporting requirements mandated that physicians performing abortions submit an ultrasound image of the fetus to DHHS. Republican Sen. Joyce Krawiec said the ultrasound image was required in order to determine if the fetus was at least 16 weeks, which is the beginning time frame for doctors to submit reports to DHHS under this bill. Democratic Sen. Terry Van Duyn questioned whether this was simply a way to second guess the decision-making capacity of doctors.
Democratic Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram also questioned why the waiting period for abortions needed to be extended an extra 48 hours from the current 24 hours in place. Sen. Krawiec justified the extension by likening it to other decisions that people wait on, like buying a house. Public comments on both sides also focused on the added time frame. Dr. Amy Bryant stated that the additional wait time would only delay needed care and that women have already carefully consider their options before going to their doctors.
Sen. Paul Lowe Jr. made an excellent point, begging the question of why ultrasounds were even necessary to begin with. No one could give him an answer, and the topic was quickly changed while they skirted around answering his question. This would lead one to wonder how much the proponents of HB465 really “care” about women and children, or if they are just doing everything they can to advance a party-line, theological agenda.
Later, Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham was quoted as saying, “Proponents stated that ‘women need more time to make decisions’ and they have so many ’emotions’ and ‘hormones,’ and it ‘takes longer for them to gather information.’ So, I sure hope our Female Senators are allowed 72 hours before this vote. Because, of course, they need more time.” Female Senators were not given additional time, as after an hour of debate and public comments, the bill advanced from the committee to debate on the Senate floor the following day.
This, and many other issues were discussed at the Moral Monday event that immediately followed the hearing of HB465. The main issues at hand for the day’s protests were environmental justice and healthcare issues, with many visible signs that displayed messages that spoke out against various topics, including: offshore drilling on the NC coast, taxing the poor, cutting medicare and medicaid, and of course HB465 and its mandated 72-hour waiting period.