Informed Consent Bill Heads to Floor
Special Report - May 20, 2011
On Thursday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services approved legislation that would ensure that women considering abortion are given complete and accurate information about the procedure and their unborn child. The measure, HB 854Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know, was approved by a 6-4 roll call vote.
The committee first heard an explanation of the bill from primary sponsors, Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret). Rep. Samuelson shared that just as legislators look at issues in terms of long and short term consequences, with the need for transparency and being fully informed on both sides of an issue, a woman considering an abortion needs to have accurate information in a manner that gives her time to make a decision that is in the best interest for her and her child for the long term. Rep. McElraft added that “it is not a true choice unless you have an educated choice.”
Opponents of the bill were quick to take issue with key provisions of the bill, including a provision that amends the state’s current law by requiring that parental consent for a minor to obtain an abortion must be in the form of a notarized signature to limit forgeries. Rep. Diane Parfitt (D-Cumberland) questioned how such a requirement would comply with HIPPA, federal legislation that regulates the privacy of medical information. Rep. Samuelson explained that a notary is only required to authenticate the signature, and not the content of the document.
Rep. Beverly Earle (D-Mecklenburg) questioned the intent of the bill, arguing it was “an insult to women to imply that they don’t know what they’re doing.” Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) reinforced the sponsors’ comments, saying that many doctors do not tell women what happens when someone has an abortion.
The recent vote in the N.C. House of Representatives to defund Planned Parenthood in the state budget also was part of the debate, as Rep. Earle, Verla Insko (D-Orange) and Rep. Diane Parfitt took the opportunity to defend the nation’s leading abortion provider by arguing that the best way to prevent abortion was to provide contraception.
Rep. Bert Jones (Una-Rockingham) spoke strongly in favor of the bill, challenging the bill’s prepared fiscal note, which cited additional costs for the State because of the possibility that North Carolina could face increased costs with a lower abortion rate, as other states with similar informed consent legislation have seen abortion rates decrease. Citing a study that showed a decreased abortion rate in Mississippi after the passage of informed consent legislation, Rep. Jones remarked that “the reason that we’re here today in appropriations committee is because of the fact that abortions [in Mississippi] were more rare and that more children had the opportunity to be born and there’s going to be some costs with that I for one, [am] a fiscal conservative, but if we’ve got to pay a little bit more money in this state because more children have the right to be born then so be it, and I’m happy to support this bill.”The measure will now go to the House floor for consideration.
House Committee Passes Pro-Life Bill - May 12, 2011
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
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