New abortion ban fast-tracked through N.C. legislature. Will it tie doctor’s hands?

New N.C. law would ban abortions after 12 weeks with exceptions
New abortion ban fast-tracked through N.C. legislature. Will it tie doctor’s hands?
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 7:23 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - The N.C. House of Representatives took up debate on a bill that would further restrict abortion, roughly 24 hours after it was introduced.

The new legislation would ban abortions after 12 weeks but make exceptions; abortions could be performed up to 20 weeks in the case of rape or incest, 24 weeks if the child has a fatal condition and there would continue to be no restriction on abortions in cases where a mother’s life was in danger.

Representative Laura Budd (D-Mecklenburg) said she has concerns at the speed this bill is moving through the General Assembly.

Related: North Carolina Republicans announce abortion bill agreement

“I think what was the most disheartening, though, is that they are trying to ram it through [so] that they don’t have to deal with the protest and the outrage of the people of North Carolina,” Budd said. “So, instead of letting it process through in a democratic fashion, they’re saying let’s just shove this through overnight. It hasn’t even been 24 hours since we got the bill.”

Budd is also worried the bill will restrict doctors from providing women’s healthcare.

“The decision of whether or not to bear a child is so personal that it’s not really for the government to make that decision; it’s for the government to get out of the way and let that be between a woman and her doctor,” Budd said.

“I have significant concerns that it’s going to chill the ability of doctors to make recommendations for their patients and treat their patients and that’s going to result in not just placing women’s lives at risk but doctors leaving rural areas and areas that are understaffed and in high need of gynecological and obstetrical care for women.”

Senator Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) called the bill a “common sense” proposal that came as the result of collaboration, polling and consulting with doctors.

“Some people think it goes to far, some people think not enough. I feel like we struck just the right balance,” Sawyer said.

The bill will be voted on in the Senate on Thursday and will then head to Governor Roy Cooper’s desk. Cooper has said he will veto the bill.

Sawyer defended the exceptions included in the bill and pointed out that they were drafted in consultation with medical experts.

“We were very intentional to allow medical professionals to go in and have that relationship with the woman to make those decisions between them,” Sawyer said.

The bill directs the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to draft guidance to provide to doctors to help them make healthcare decisions.

Related: Abortion rights protestors gather at North Carolina General Assembly