The North Carolina state House last week passed a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion care.
HB 465 passed in the Republican-dominated House 74-45, and will now go before the Republican-controlled state Senate. Republican Governor Pat McCrory has yet to take a public position on the bill. In 2013, however, McCrory signed into law an extremely restrictive anti-abortion law that requires clinics to meet the same requirements as ambulatory surgical centers, eliminates most abortion coverage under state employee insurance plans, bans sex-selective abortions, and allows health care providers to refuse to participate in abortion-related care.
If this newest abortion restriction is passed, a woman in North Carolina seeking an abortion would have to wait 72 hours after consulting with her doctor before having the procedure. North Carolina already requires a 24-hour waiting period. Only three states, Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah, have enacted a 3-day waiting period for an abortion. Twenty-six states currently have an abortion waiting periods of at least 24 hours.
North Carolina State Representative Tricia Cotham asked in the debate over HB 465 why similar waiting periods were not required for any other life-changing medical procedure. “This is not about respecting or supporting women,” Representative Cotham said. “It’s about creating barriers that unfairly harm especially women of very limited financial means.”
Waiting periods significantly increase the burdens women face when seeking abortions. Taking time off work, paying for child care, renting a hotel room near the clinic, or making multiple trips can be costly and time-consuming.
Representative Gale Adcock, who is also a nurse practitioner, sees the law as demeaning to anyone seeking abortion care.
“I try very hard to make decisions based on evidence, and I think this bill makes an unfortunate and inaccurate assumption, that women haven’t spent sufficient time thoroughly considering their needs, their desires, their options,” Rep. Adcock said. “[The bill is] not about knowledge, it’s about delay. It’s about medically unnecessary delay.”
Media Resources: North Carolina General Assembly; Feminist Newswire 7/11/14, 7/30/13, 2/21/13, 5/10/12; Reuters 4/23/15; RH Reality Check 4/24/15