It’s been fifty years now since North Carolina women secured the basic right — if not always the practical ability — to control their own bodies when it comes to deciding whether to carry a pregnancy to term.
If Republican legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly get their way, however, that fundamental human right will be dramatically eviscerated in just a matter of days.
Gov. Roy Cooper has promised to veto Senate Bill 20 — a bill that was written in secret and whizzed through both legislative houses last week in less than three days. If, however, all Republicans are present and stick together on votes to override that veto, the central portions of the measure — including provisions that would ban abortions in numerous circumstances, both before and after the 12-week mark in a pregnancy — will become law immediately.
Here are five reasons caring and thinking people are working hard to assure this doesn’t occur:
1) People will suffer and die. As a group of Duke University physicians made painfully clear during a detailed online presentation just hours before the bill was delivered to the governor, enactment of this long, confusing and poorly written bill will bring about a chaotic healthcare disaster.
Not only is the 12-week ban completely arbitrary — the Duke doctors noted that outpatient abortions after 12 weeks are routine and not uncommonly required to address serious pregnancy complications — but the bill would enact several additional prohibitions that take effect prior to 12 weeks that will make basic healthcare much harder, if not impossible, to obtain.
The inevitable results: a) many women who need abortion care will be forced to forgo it at great risk to their health, and b) some physicians will choose not to provide care they know is necessary for fear of violating the state’s criminal code.
2) The bill imposes new and destructive restrictions from the moment of conception. Though billed by its proponents and some irresponsible headline writers as a “compromise” measure, SB 20 dramatically and dangerously limits abortion care from the moment of conception.
At present, roughly 60 percent of abortions take place though the use of abortion pills – a simple procedure in which patients swallow a pill in the same way they would consume hundreds of other medications. This remarkably safe, simple, and effective protocol has been approved by the FDA for many years and it’s already unnecessarily overregulated by North Carolina law.
And yet SB 20 would make this routine bit of healthcare – something that can and often should easily be handled remotely — even more expensive and inaccessible by requiring multiple in-person visits. The almost certain result: lower-income women and women who live in rural areas and other nearby states will be denied care.
3) The bill was passed with an outrageous lack of process. SB 20 is one of the most momentous bills ever passed by the North Carolina legislature. Even if one views an individual’s reproductive freedom as a legitimate topic of public debate (or takes an interest in the various fig leaves with which the bill’s unknown authors adorned it in a sudden attempt to appear concerned about things like domestic violence and maternal health), the notion that it went from its unveiling to the Governor’s desk in less than 72 hours — less than the waiting period the state mandates for women to obtain an abortion pill after seeing a physician — makes a cruel mockery of the lawmaking process.
4) The bill runs strongly counter to public opinion. As referendum after referendum in an array of states like Kansas and Kentucky demonstrated in 2022, a large majority of Americans oppose new abortion bans like SB 20. Polling has repeatedly confirmed that this is also the case in North Carolina. It’s for this reason that the leaders of the Republican majority in our state’s gerrymandered legislature have done their utmost to camouflage the extreme impacts of the new legislation. It’s also why they would never dare – as they have with so many other issues – to leave this issue to a vote of the people.
5) The bill’s final enactment is premised on deceit and dishonesty. Ultimately, for all the enormous advantages the sponsors and supporters of SB 20 enjoy – a gerrymandered legislative majority, a rushed and secretive process, the ability and willingness to prevent consideration of amendments – we now know, based on last week’s votes, that the Governor’s promised veto still cannot be overridden, and the bill cannot become law, without the support of a lawmaker who promised her constituents just a few months ago that she would do the opposite.
Make no mistake: Citizen Tricia Cotham is certainly entitled to flipflop on an issue about which she once spoke so passionately and eloquently. But for State Rep. Cotham to do so in such a way that works a blatant and devastating fraud on her constituents and millions of North Carolinians with whom she so recently professed to be in such strong solidarity, would be an act of supreme deceit and dishonesty, and another powerful indictment of legislation that will, regardless of the final outcome, live in infamy.
NC Newsline Editor Rob Schofield oversees day-to-day newsroom operations, authors regular commentaries, and hosts a weekly radio show/podcast. Republished from ncnewsline.com.