Abortion Back For Wake County
Special Report - March 19, 2010
Wake County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 on March 15th to restore coverage for elective abortions to the county’s employee health plan. County manager David Cooke had removed the coverage after consulting the county attorney about its possible violation of a 1981 State Supreme Court case. The issue centers on whether elective abortions, which are not the result of rape or incest or considered necessary to save the life of the mother, should be covered for county employees, since their compensation is paid using taxpayer money. You can read our previous story on the issue here.
During the Commissioners’ previous meeting on February 15, a tie vote let the removal stand. At the March 15 meeting, Commissioner Joe Bryan made an initial motion to ratify the county manager’s removal of the coverage. That vote failed along party lines with Commissioners Lindy Brown, Stan Norwalk, Betty Lou Ward, and Harold Webb voting against the motion and Commissioners Bryan, Paul Coble, and Tony Gurley supporting the motion. Commissioner Norwalk then offered a resolution to restore the coverage. That resolution was written by Jack Nichols, who is co-Founder of Planned Parenthood of Greater Raleigh and Chairman of the Wake Democratic Party Chairman, and has filed to challenge sitting Commissioner Coble in this fall’s election. Norwalk’s motion to approve his resolution passed along the same party-line division upon which Commissioner Bryan’s motion had failed.
Before the vote, during a public comment period, speakers opposed to reinstating the coverage outnumbered supporters by a margin of two-to-one. Many of the speakers expressed shock and disappointment at Norwalk’s comments to David Bass of the Carolina Journal on March 12 that “keeping the abortion coverage in the plan actually saves taxpayer dollars…since bringing a child to term ‘would cost 10 times as much.’” One speaker referenced his youth in the “Deep South,” where he lived the reality of segregation, which was legal at that time. He admonished some members of the commission for their merely legalistic approach to the issue of abortion, saying, “to speak and posture your dialogue from a legalistic standpoint does not make it right, it makes it legal.”
Of the three speakers supporting the resolution, one represented the ACLU and another represented Planned Parenthood. Both referenced opinions by the UNC School of Government, ACLU, and League of Municipalities, which argue that local governments can legally provide coverage for elective abortions to employees using taxpayer funds.
There have been reports that a lawsuit could be forthcoming against local governments across the state that continue to provide coverage for elective abortions to their employees.
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