A controversial law that makes late-term abortions easier to obtain has recently been enacted in New York, and a comparable abortion bill is under consideration in Virginia.
Similar legislation is already in the works in North Carolina.
Several of the state’s top Democrats — including Rep. Graig Meyer, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri
Called the “Whole Woman’s Health Act,” the version of the bill introduced in both the state House and Senate would remove most restrictions on abortion in North Carolina. The bill legalizes abortions up to the point of birth, provided that a physician can be found to perform the procedure.
Supporters argue that abortions are an essential component of women’s health, and say that women do not generally seek late-term abortions unless there are extreme, tragic circumstances.
Opponents point out that under these types of bills, abortions would be legal for any reason and even while a pregnant mother has begun labor.
Current North Carolina abortion law
Under current North Carolina law, abortions prior to 20 weeks are legal if they are performed by a licensed physician.
After 20 weeks, physicians are legally allowed to perform abortions only in the event of a “medical emergency” and must report to the state the conditions that led to that determination.
What the Whole Woman’s Health Act would do
The North Carolina abortion bill would allow any “health care professional” to perform abortions prior to 20 weeks, instead of just physicians.
After 20 weeks, the bill would remove the requirement that abortions be limited to medical emergencies. The only requirement for late-term abortions under the bill is that they must be performed by a physician in a hospital or clinic. Doctors would not need to record or report any reasons for performing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Finally, the bill would prevent any regulations that make it more expensive to obtain an abortion, increase wait times or increase the distance women would need to travel.
A 2020 campaign issue?
It’s unclear whether this legislation will be reintroduced in the 2019 long session. The North Carolina ACLU said in
In any case, the bill would be unlikely to gain traction in the current General Assembly, where Republicans hold the majority in both chambers.
However, Democrats have aims to re-take the majority in the 2020 elections. Van Duyn is also running statewide for lieutenant governor. Expect this bill to become a political issue during those campaigns.