Surprise abortion bill SHAME in North Carolina

“‘Let’s get on with this and enjoy our holiday,’ said state Senator Tom Apodaca (R), prompting protesters to shout ‘Shame!’ from the gallery.” – The Huffington Post

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I’m exhausted. I’ve been protesting at the NC General Assembly all morning, only to watch the Republican majority pass an unneeded, unwanted, unethical bill restricting abortion access in my state. As it stands, only one clinic will remain to serve about 5 million women.

Haven’t heard about this? That’s because, in hopes of avoiding a repeat “Wendy Davis situation,” NC Republicans tacked this surprise anti-choice bill onto an existing bill about Sharia Law, and presented it to the state Senate at 5:30 pm last night. That’s right – LAST NIGHT. AFTER BUSINESS HOURS. DURING A MAJOR HOLIDAY WEEK.

There were still several hundred pro-choice advocates on the scene this morning – we filled the gallery, flowed out into the lobby, and lined the streets. But, but, but. To no avail.

I’m too worn out and, frankly, still shocked, to explain all this well. Essentially, what was avoided in Texas last week just happened in NC. It remains to be seen whether the Governor will sign the bill into law, but my Spidey senses point to “yes.” Please click the image to watch a PERFECT video of NC Senator Nesbitt (my new hero) explaining what happened and why the “sneak attack” was so despicable:

Nesbitt Busts GOP for Sneak Attack in War on Women

Here’s more at the Huffington Post. Wish us luck, y’all – North Carolina is going under fast.

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34 responses to “Surprise abortion bill SHAME in North Carolina

  1. “tacked it onto an existing bill about Sharia Law…”

    How ironic! “We won’t have THEIR Sharia Law…. Because we have our OWN Sharia’esque law, see!”

  2. Jennie,

    I have been following this issue in Texas, but probably not as closely as I should. From what I understand the main premise of the bill they tried to pass in Texas boils down to these three points:
    1) require all abortion clinics to be held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers
    2) require all abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of every clinic where they practice
    3) require two in-person visits with a doctor for women seeking medical abortion.

    Perhaps this is because I read almost the entire court transcript of the Gosnell prosecution/investigation, but these three requirements seem fairly reasonable to me.

    1) abortion is a surgical procedure
    2) if something goes wrong with an abortion, the staff on hand may not be qualified to mend the damage and save the woman’s life
    3) two in-person visits before a surgery that does have risks seems like a rational stipulation.

    I’m interested to hear your opinion and perfectly willing to be corrected if any of my points are incorrect!

    • It would be a dream come true if Republican legislators in Texas really cared about the well-being of women. I’ve yet to see that.

      “The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a national group of women’s health experts, has come out against the harsh abortion restrictions that Texas lawmakers are attempting to force through a second special session. In a new statement, the coalition of OB-GYNs warns that the Texas bills are “over-reaching” and “set a dangerous precedent” for medical care.”

      http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/07/02/2246091/ob-gyns-denounce-texas-abortion-restrictions/

    • Here’s another link that might give you the bigger picture. That’s the problem with these legislators. They are not looking at the bigger picture. Same with NC and other states who are trying to erode the protection of women’s reproductive health.

      http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/07/03/2253921/texas-ongoing-abortion-battle/

      “By subjecting abortion clinics to new regulations that would force them to make expensive updates to their facilities — unnecessary measures that major medical groups, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose — Texas’ bill would force 90 percent of the state’s clinics to close their doors. That would leave just five abortion clinics in the entire Lone Star State, which happens to be the second most populous state in the country.”

      “But women’s health advocates point out that legislation targeting abortion clinics actually represents the most serious threat to women’s reproductive access, with extremely far-reaching implications for women seeking abortion care.”

      “Last year, they successfully defunded Planned Parenthood, a move that forced even more clinics — including dozens that weren’t even affiliated with the national women’s health organization — to close their doors.”

      • Thank you for sharing this. The essential point from what you posted is that major medical bodies, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, OPPOSE the enactment of these measures.

        Politicians make bad doctors.

    • Hi, friend. I’m glad to talk about this in more depth. In the recent past, I worked for three years at Ipas, a non-profit organization that works to provide safe abortion services internationally, so that is where my experience with this issue comes from.

      I can see how, to a layperson, these requirements seem reasonable. That is exactly why the bill angers me so much – because, in fact, they are completely medically unnecessary – a point the great majority of doctors would concede. NC politicians are using these seemingly innocuous requirements as a smokescreen to mask their true intention of making abortion care almost impossible to access. I offer these examples:

      1. Dental surgery has a much higher rate of complication than does abortion, but dentist offices are not held to ambulatory surgical center standards. Delivery is much more dangerous than abortion, but it can be done in the home. When you look at the abortion pill – which isn’t a surgery at all – and see taking it has 5x less risk of complication than taking Viagra, hopefully you begin to see a pattern of persecution against abortion access instead of true medical concern. Abortion is already quite well regulated in NC, and the rate of complications and infection is incredibly low compared to many other common procedures.

      2. I agree, hospital access close to any health clinic offering abortion care would be ideal. However, in NC, many doctors are not willing to partner with abortion providers in this way due to their personal moral beliefs. That is their decision to make, but it means that many clinics will close due to their inability to make this partnership, when the reality is, if a complication does arise, a woman or her provider should be able to call an ambulance, have her transferred, and she should receive treatment upon arrival just as any other patient would. A legal requirement for pre-exisiting admitting privileges just creates a hoop to jump through.

      3. Medical abortion is another name for the abortion pill, which, as I said, is safer than Viagra. Once the pills have been ingested (usually at home, while resting in bed), it takes about 48 hours for the process to be completed. The instructions for use are incredibly simple and in no way require two visits – this is another hoop to jump through to make the process of obtaining an abortion more expensive, more time-consuming, and generally more difficult. This is especially dangerous because, in many states, there is a cut-off point after which abortion care cannot be provided. Asking women to fit more than one, entirely uncalled-for medical visits into her schedule is risking her ability to stay within that timeline while offering no additional medical insight from those visits.

      In essence, what is happening in NC (and what happened in Texas and Ohio) are attempts to circumvent the fact that abortion is a fully legal, nationally recognized right by making it unattainable for reasons that do not actually make it any safer for women. By taking away access, extreme conservatives are able to – in practice – take away a woman’s right to choose. The only results you will see from this are less women accessing cancer screenings and birth control (both of which are commonly offered at the clinics that also offer abortions) and – especially because of that lack of birth control access – more women having unwanted pregnancies and turning to unsafe abortion methods to terminate them.

      I agree with you that the Gosnell case was appalling, but that man is in no way representative of the average abortion provider, and his practices are abhorred by the pro-choice community. Restricting access to clean, safe clinics, however, on the basis of one dramatic case is – excuse the inappropriate metaphor, but it’s what came to mind – like acquiring food poisoning at a cheap food truck and, in response, shutting down every restaurant in the city.

      Please let me know your thoughts, and if this raises any additional questions for you.

  3. Jennie, thank you for protesting at the National Assembly. I been following this. I am greatly concerned about the direction our country is going by power addicted legislators. I was also utterly flabbergasted at NC House Bill 34, the “Nipple Bill”, where showing a woman’s nipple in public will be a class H felony, with up to 12 months in prison. Of course, men are allowed to show their nipples without legal recourse. Around the end of April, the Asheville Citizen Times said the bill was still alive.

    To add insult to injury, NC House Bill 937, a Right-to-Carry reform bill, passed in the state House of Representatives, allowing concealed handgun permit holders to lawfully carry their firearm into restaurants that serve alcohol, locally controlled parks, and into places where tickets are sold for admission, etc.

    I am stunned by this reckless legislation. Everyone who supported this abortion bill lacks empathy and critical thinking skills. They appear to be clueless about what happens to the brains of children when children are not wanted and/or cannot be adequately cared for. Also, the physical, economic and emotional harm to women. If the governor approves this bill, he’s just a brutish as the rest of the power-hungry primates. This will have a huge impact of the well being of the state of NC. They are absolutely clueless and are not prepared for the short-term and long-term repercussions. This is a travesty.

    An excerpt from “How Power Affects the Brain” by Dr. Ian Robertson:

    “Democracy, the separation of judicial powers and the free press all evolved for essentially one purpose – to reduce the chance of leaders becoming power addicts. Power changes the brain triggering increased testosterone in both men and women. Testosterone and one of its by-products called 3-androstanediol, are addictive, largely because they increase dopamine in a part of the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens.

    But too much power – and hence too much dopamine – can disrupt normal cognition and emotion, leading to gross errors of judgment and imperviousness to risk, not to mention huge egocentricity and lack of empathy for others.”

    I hope you get some much needed rest. Again, thank you.

    • I truly appreciate your support! There are so many insane things happening in NC right now. Some of the protestors who came out today are people who having been at the assembly representing reason every week for six weeks or more. They are tired, but so strong!

      I do not know what Gov. McCrory will do with this bill – my guess is that he will not sign it, but that it will still become law due to the overwhelming majority in the House and Senate.

      At least they failed to pass the bill that would have legislated Christianity as the state religion.

        • Yep! In April. Luckily, the Speaker of the House killed it, even though it was proposed by his own party members. I’ve started questioning whether I’ll always want to live in NC – although moving feels a bit like abandoning it to the wolves.

  4. I disagree with you on the issue of abortion, Jennie, but the way the GOP handled this situation makes me sick. Of that, we can agree on. I wish our government would actually care about its citizens and think through the implications of what they are doing.

    • Hi, Sarah! I appreciate your honesty and your outrage at the part we can agree on. It does feel like the majority of politicians have forgotten that their job is to represent and serve their constituents. P.s. your photo with your husband is really cute, and he does do the beard proud.

  5. Jennie, thanks for your excellent and well-researched points above. As you mentioned we have the same thing going on in Texas right now under the guise of protecting women, which we all know is not what these bills are about. Hypocrisy is the correct word because if politicians really cared about protecting women, they would invest in education and access to reliable and affordable birth control. In Texas, there is neither, and women suffer. Especially lower income women. I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many conservative republicans oppose educating young people about sexual reproduction. As I mentioned in my own blog post about Wendy Davis, I think everyone can agree that no one is pro-abortion. Thank you for protesting in North Carolina. I will be doing the same in Texas.

    • I just went and read your post about Wendy, and I loved it so much. I think you perfectly explain why no one is pro-abortion, but anyone willing to put themselves in a different woman’s shoes is likely to be pro-choice. I’m awed by how well and objectively you laid that out – I may have to borrow some of your points in the future.

      And yes, the hypocrisy is what maddens me most. If you want to pass legislation “for women,” than don’t try to trick women in the process.

      Anyway, many thanks to you, too!

      • Thanks, Jennie. I hope more people’s eyes are opened to the real intention behind the type of legislation Texas and North Carolina are trying to pass. Wouldn’t it be so much better to put resources into education and unwanted pregnancy prevention in the first place? Ugh. I just don’t get it.

  6. Thanks for your activism in this area. I hope that eventually saner heads will prevail. Selfishly, I am worried bc my wonderful sister wants me to retire in NC, but if I can get out of a state (TN) whose government protests mosques and sponsors “Don’t say gay” bills, why would I want to jump into another repressive conservative frying pan?

    • Thanks for your kind words. We’ll see what happens – in the long game, I have no doubt that women will find ways to continue to take care of themselves as they need to, as they have been doing for hundreds and hundreds of years. I just hope they can do so safely.

      I’d love to launch into a list of why NC is wonderful (because it frequently and upliftingly is) but I can’t argue your point about the backwards political atmosphere here. I can barely imagine how wonderful it would be to live in a state where progressive people were the clear majority.

      On the other hand, the difficulty of fighting against the current conservative rule here makes me even more proud of the individuals and families who speak out against it. We’re definitely not invisible!

  7. The clock has been turning back on women’s rights in very insidious ways since the 1980’s. Now there is no shame to these so called representatives actions. The Christian Right is a mighty minority force and will stop at nothing until they feel women are back where they “belong.” How do you control women? By not letting them control their own bodies!

    • Isn’t it astounding? I am continually surprised by these attacks – somehow, I keep thinking we’ve moved past the point where women’s rights would even be questioned – and then I’m proven wrong.

      One of my former colleagues, who has been working at a pro-choice NGO for about 20 years, was with me at the protest. She remembers what things were like before Roe v. Wade, and as we listened to the commentary from the most conservative Republican senators, tears streamed down her face.

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