North Carolina Moves Closer to 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

Abortion rights groups have long argued extending the waiting period for abortions had nothing to do with protecting women, but instead had everything to do with shaming women who make the decision to terminate their pregnancies.

“Under the guise of women’s health and safety, anti-choice policymakers in North Carolina have methodically restricted access to abortion and have neglected to advance policies that truly address the challenges women and families face every day,” Shoshannah Sayers, the interim executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, said.

“Women are more than capable of making their own decisions regarding their reproductive health and this bill will do nothing to ‘inform’ them. Rather, tripling the waiting period only makes obtaining an abortion more a difficult, or even impossible, challenge for some women,” she added.

The arguments over how long a woman should wait to have an abortion seem almost boilerplate compared to another debate that is just picking up steam in North Carolina, thanks to an amendment tacked on to HB 465.

It would specifically prohibit University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University employees from performing or supervising “the performance of an abortion as part of the employee’s official duties.”

Neither university has offered a comment on the legislation expect to say they are reviewing the proposal.

Pro-choice advocates like Sayers argue that would drain the available pool of doctors who could perform abortions in North Carolina. She said women would have to leave the state to get an abortion.

“The people most likely to be negatively affected by this bill are women in rural parts of the state, women of color, economically disadvantaged women, and immigrant women,” she said.

“Politicians in North Carolina should focus on advancing policies that will truly promote women’s health and safety, not abortion restrictions that do just the opposite.”

The North Carolina House approved HB 465 April 23. The North Carolina Senate takes it up next.

Assuming it wins Senate approval and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signs it into law, North Carolina will join Missouri, South Dakota and Utah and increase the waiting period for women seeking abortions from 24 to 72 hours.

Gov. McCrory pledged not to make North Carolina abortion laws more restrictive when he ran for election in 2012. But in 2013, he did sign legislation that imposed new regulations on the state’s abortion clinics.