North Carolina Moves Closer to 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

Democrats might say Republican women are waging war on women in North Carolina. Two female legislators have successfully argued women who want abortions should be forced to wait three days before the procedure could be performed.

Pro-life advocates say the legislation should be seen as a triumph for women and their children.

However, if they do still want an abortion after the 72-hour waiting period, women might not be able to find a doctor in North Carolina to do the abortion. At least that’s what pro-life advocates seem to be hoping for.

Women who desire to end their pregnancies in an abortion clinic might also face a challenge soon that would even be more daunting thanks to those female GOP legislators. The women have also proposed legislation that could stop medical schools from teaching students how to perform abortions.

State Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer (R) sponsored legislation that would extend the 24-hour waiting period before an abortion in North Carolina to 72 hours. She said women need to be given the opportunity to change their minds, or “cool off” just like people do when they are making a decision to buy a new home.

“We see waiting periods all throughout areas of our society in the medical context as well as in the real estate context, in the, you know, issues relating to marriage,” Schaffer said in a YouTube video. “The poorest decisions that we make are the ones that we make under pressure and on impulse and so we want to ensure that women have ample amount of time to receive that information so that they can make the best decision.”

“We believe we have come to a decision on this language that really does empower women and promotes the health and safety of women as they are making these important decisions,” she added. “So we believe that this is truly a bill that those that are both pro-life and pro-choice can get behind.”

State Rep. Michele Presnell (R) supported Schaffer’s proposal.

“These young girls, when they go in there, some of them very abrupt, very quickly they make that decision that they’re going to get rid of this baby,” she told Raw Story. “This baby at five weeks has a beating heart. When you have an abortion you stop that beating heart. I don’t agree with abortion in any way.”

Tami Fitzgerald, the executive director of he North Carolina Family Values Coalition, told the Citizen-Times the legislation would be good for both women and children.

"It will give women the opportunity to further consider an important decision that will impact the rest of their lives," she said. "We know Roe v. Wade is the law, but as long as abortion is legal, it should at least be safe.”

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.