House Committee Passes Pro-Life Bill
Special Report - May 12, 2011
On May 11, a North Carolina House committee approved a bill that would protect a woman’s right to receive complete and accurate information when considering abortion. The House Judiciary Subcommittee B passed HB 854Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know Act by a 95 vote, clearing the way for consideration on the House floor. Wednesday’s debate represented the first time the measure has been considered by any legislative committee since 1997, despite similar bills having been filed for more than a decade.
This meeting was the second opportunity for members of the Judiciary committee to hear from the public on HB 854. The first half of the meeting was largely devoted to hearing testimony from members of the public, with much of the discussion mirroring the comments made during the measure’s first hearing before the committee last week. Opponents of the bill all largely echoed the argument that the bill infringed upon a decision that they argued should only concern a woman and her doctor. Supporters of the bill highlighted the seriousness of the procedure, arguing that the abortionist should not be exempted from informing the patient about the irrevocable procedure.
The period of public comment included a diverse group of speakers, including physicians on both sides of the debate. Marty McCaffery, a neonatologist and associate professor of pediatrics at UNC-Chapel Hill, gave testimony about the link between abortion and premature births in subsequent pregnancies, which he argued has been overlooked by the medical community because of the fear of stirring up political controversy. Dr. McCaffery asked members to support the bill, saying “pro-choice should mean pro-informed choice.” The committee also heard from a psychiatrist that testified she has counseled hundreds of women that suffered from depression and symptoms similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after an abortion.
One especially powerful testimony came from Sylinthia Stewart of Fayetteville, who has had five abortions in three different states. Ms. Stewart noted that she never received the information she needed to make an informed choice, and condemned abortion as a “racist act” of “black genocide” for taking advantage of black women. “Black women need to be educated,” she told the committee. “We are the ones they are hiding the truth from. I am sorry about your circumstance, but that does not give anyone else the right to hide it from me.” She concluded that, “This bill will protect black women. The women who actually have abortions need more information.”
Rep. Alice Bordsen (D-Orange) had strong words for the committee, calling the bill a “pathetic exercise” and arguing that the bill was not about abortion, but about a paternalistic desire to oppress women. Rep. Bordsen echoed comments made earlier in the public testimony, claiming that the bill was crafted with the intention to paint women as either stupid or as having “no moral compass.” Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg), one of the bill’s primary sponsors, defended the bill against those statements, saying that the bill was simply “about making sure women know what they need to know before making a very serious decision.” Samuelson continued, saying “I believe that the women of North Carolina are very capable of making the right decision for them and their families if given the full amount of information with enough time to consider [it].”
“We commend the bill sponsors and leadership of the House for allowing this important bill to move forward,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “For far too long, pregnant women in North Carolina have lacked the assurance that they are receiving complete and accurate information when considering one of the most life-altering decisions a woman can facewhether to end the life of their unborn child. HB 854 is good public policy that will give North Carolina women the same opportunity to be truly informed about the abortion procedure, its alternatives, and their unborn child. Abortion is the only medical procedure that takes the life of another person, and the physician performing the abortion or prescribing the drug that ends that life should be required to present all of the information necessary for the woman to make a truly informed decision.”
Bill Emphasizes Women's Right to Know - April 8 , 2011
Committee Discusses Informed Consent Bill - May 5, 2011
Informed Consent - FNC - Spring 2011
SC Governor Signs Pro-Life Bill - August 20, 2010
Court Upholds Informed Consent Statute - September 2, 2009
South Dakota Strengthens Informed Consent - July 28, 2008
Bill Would Uphold Life in NC- July 5, 2007
Parental Consent for Abortion- August 2002
The Importance of Informed Consent in Abortion Cases- July 2005
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