Saturday, July 20, 2024

GOP makes last-minute changes to abortion law, hearing date set on lawsuit

The North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy NCGA)
The North Carolina General Assembly will review an amendment to the recently passed 12-week abortion law ahead of a hearing on the law on June 28. (Courtesy NCGA)

Leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are making “clarifying” changes to the recently passed 12-week abortion law, challenged by healthcare providers.

READ MORE: General Assembly passes 12-week abortion ban, local Republicans silent on vote

Filed on June 16 the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic and Dr. Beverly A. Gray, the lawsuit targets “confusing” and “contradictory provisions” in Senate Bill 20. The state government’s Republican supermajority passed the legislation in 48 hours in May, Democrats lamenting the haste which the 48-page bill moved through both chambers.

The hearing is set to be heard in a Greensboro federal court on June 28. The lawsuit is an attempt to temporarily block the law before it takes effect on July 1.

The law bans elective abortions after 12 weeks; cases of rape or incest have until 20 weeks, fetal anomaly cases 24, and “life threatening” emergencies throughout the pregnancy.

The lawsuit targets the following provisions in the bill:

  • A mandate that survivors of sexual assault obtain abortions in a hospital after 12 weeks of pregnancy, under exceptions for rape and incest, despite medically trained professionals able to offer safe care in a clinic setting
  • A provision requiring information provided to all patients 72 hours before an abortion with no exceptions for medical emergencies, despite other sections of S.B. 20 outlining a medical emergency exception to the 72-hour waiting period
  • The prohibition of advising how a person can access an abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy, preventing providers from helping patients access lawful care; the suit cites violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
  • The appearance of preventing providers from offering medication abortion after 10 weeks of pregnancy, despite another provision that explicitly states medication abortion is lawful through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy

Republican lawmakers addressed the fourth qualm Thursday.

During the afternoon’s Senate session, GOP legislators took a recess for 20 minutes. When they came back, the senators had added one more bill to the day’s calendar — an amendment to S.B. 20 offered by Sen. Joyce Krawiec, one of its main sponsors.

The “technical” changes strike language in the original bill that stated physicians providing drugs for medication abortions needed to verify that the gestational age for a developing fetus “is no more than 70 days,” or 10 weeks. The move is intended to clarify that medication can be used for abortion through the 12th week.

The vote on the amended bill fell 27-17 along party lines. Democrats argued they were not given enough time or notice to review the amendment. The bill will need a second approval on Monday before it gets transferred to the House, then Gov. Roy Cooper.

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