NC Senate set to vote on sweeping changes to state abortion laws - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

NC Senate approves sweeping changes to state abortion laws

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WBTV) -

The North Carolina Senate has approved legislation that would require abortion clinics to meet new operating standards and require physicians be present when the procedure is performed by a final vote of 29-12.

The chamber voted 27-14 Tuesday night for the bill that also would prohibit gender-selective abortions.

The House also would have to approve the measure.

Gov. Pat McCrory said last fall he didn't want to sign additional abortion restrictions into law.

The new legislation would direct state regulators to change clinic rules so they're similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers - a move Planned Parenthood says could shut down providers.

Senate Democrats criticized Republicans for bringing up the bill late on the day before a long July 4 weekend begins.


"Safety for women and for insuring that clinics we have in North Carolina are safe places for women to go," said the bill's sponsor Warren Daniel, R, Burke and Cleveland Counties.

Twelve legislators voted against the measure, including Democratic Senator Malcolm Graham of Mecklenburg County.

"I think it's a devastating day for the people of North Carolina. I think they deserve to be heard on an important piece of legislation, there's no transparency in Raleigh," Graham told WBTV.

Senator Shirley Randleman, a Republican representing Wilkes, Surry, and Stokes County said that she supported the bill because it would eliminate the possibility that women are having abortion based on the sex of the fetus.

"I am saddened by the reality of baby girls being aborted in our country simply because they are girls."

Senator Martin Nesbitt, D, of Bumcombe County, said that the fact that the galleryw as full inside the chambers and that many hundreds more were protesting outside the chamber, was proof that many women in North Carolina are opposed to these new restrictions.

"I was convinced you were going to have to poke them in the eye to wake them up so they'd know what was going on down here, well, you did," Nesbitt said.

Hundreds of abortion rights advocates flooded the halls of North Carolina's Legislative Building to oppose legislation moving through the Senate that would place new restrictions on the procedure and clinics that perform them.

The Senate gallery was full of people Wednesday morning hearing floor debate on a measure that would direct regulators to change clinic rules so they are similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers. Opponents say the change could close the doors of clinics performing abortions.

The bill received tentative Senate approval Tuesday night shortly after a House bill unrelated to abortion was changed in a Senate committee to include the abortion provisions.

One protester, Maria Lynn of Chapel Hill, says she came to Raleigh to let Republican leaders know she's keeping an eye on them.

NC Attorney General released a statement following the vote saying the new law would force clincs to meet unnescessarily high licensing requirements and make it more difficult for doctor to perform the abortion procedures among other changes.

"Restricting the health care rights of women is not only bad public policy, but it will ignite even more constitutional challenges in court," Cooper said in a release.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press with WBTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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