Center for Reproductive Rights Calls on North Carolina Governor to Veto Bill Forcing Women to Delay Abortion
State Senate passes measure tripling state’s mandatory waiting period, Governor previously vowed not to sign any abortion restrictions
(PRESS RELEASE) The North Carolina General Assembly approved a measure today tripling the state’s mandatory waiting period for women seeking safe and legal abortion from 24 to 72 hours. This is one of the longest waiting periods in the nation— only three other states in the U.S. force a woman to delay care by at least three days.
Governor Pat McCrory—who previously pledged that he would not sign legislation restricting women’s access to abortion in North Carolina—has 10 days to veto the bill upon receipt before it automatically becomes law.
HB 465 was fast-tracked through the North Carolina House in just over 24 hours in April. The legislative leadership also refused to hear testimony from doctors and women’s health advocates opposing the bill, anti-democratic tactics which were also employed in 2013 when the state legislature passed a package of abortion restrictions added to a motorcycle safety bill.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Piling onto the restrictions on safe and legal abortion they passed literally under cover of darkness two years ago, North Carolina politicians are once again using fly-by-night tactics to strip women of their basic rights. No one should be forced to delay health care because politicians have the audacity to presume to know what is best for a woman and her family.
“Governor McCrory has been given a second chance to make good on his promise not to interfere with women’s access to safe, legal, essential health care. He should take advantage of it, and veto this insulting bill.”
North Carolina’s measure is one of the many mandatory delays moving through statehouses this legislative session. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin both recently signed mandatory delays for women seeking safe and legal abortion, while a similar measure currently awaits action from the governor of Florida.
Waiting periods can create a variety of burdens on a woman needing to access abortion—from increasing shame to requiring additional trips to the clinic, which means additional travel time, transportation costs, child care, and time off work. Many North Carolina women like Whitney—who sought an abortion after receiving the news that her pregnancy was incompatible with life at around 19 weeks—already face extreme obstacles when they need to end a pregnancy safely and legally, and waiting periods only increase these barriers. Additionally, extending the waiting period can lead a woman to delay the abortion to later into the pregnancy, which can increase the risks of the otherwise extremely safe procedure.
The Center for Reproductive Rights—along with the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and the firm of O’Melveny &, Myers—is currently challenging a separate North Carolina measure which forces women to undergo a narrated ultrasound before receiving an abortion, a measure blocked by both a district court and federal appeals court as unconstitutional. In March 2015, North Carolina asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the coercive and demeaning law.