Nation/World

N.C. Senate approves bill tightening abortion rules

Aaron Caldwell yells
Aaron Caldwell yells "shame" as people gather outside the North Carolina Senate chamber Wednesday. (Associated Press)

Measure adds restrictions on doctors, health plans, clinics

RALEIGH, N.C. – To cries of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” from outraged observers, the state Senate in North Carolina on Wednesday passed a bill that would impose new licensing requirements and other restrictions on abortion clinics.

Hundreds of protesters, most of them women, gathered in the Senate gallery and outside the legislative building in Raleigh as the Republican-led Senate approved the bill, 29-12. The measure would require abortion clinics to meet the same medical standards as outpatient surgical clinics.

Republican backers of the bill said it is designed to protect women’s health. Opponents said the measure, attached Tuesday night without public notice to an unrelated bill banning sharia, or Islamic law, in family law cases, was a blatant attempt to restrict abortion in the state.

The public outcry over the measure was similar to protests last week in Texas where onlookers cheered state legislator Wendy Davis, who wore pink sneakers as she delayed passage of an anti-abortion bill with a 13-hour filibuster on the state Senate floor.

The North Carolina bill, titled the “Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act,” requires abortion clinics to undergo a licensing process similar to outpatient surgical clinics.

The bill also imposes restrictions on doctors who perform abortions; prohibits abortion coverage by health plans participating in federal health care exchanges under the new health law; and allows health care providers to refuse to provide abortion-related services.

The bill also requires doctors to be present when women take the drug RU-486, which induces abortions.

The measure now goes to the state House, also controlled by Republicans.

Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice N.C., told the Los Angeles Times that only one abortion clinic in the state, in Asheville, could meet the standards imposed by the bill.



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