N.C. Democrats Seek to Expand Access to Abortion

(CN) – Democrats in both houses of the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature have filed bills intended to remove the state’s restriction on abortions.

The lawmakers said in a new conference Tuesday that they believe North Carolina needs to change its abortion statutes to conform to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which found similar restrictions in Texas to be an unnecessary burden on women seeking abortion.

“North Carolina has the most severe restrictions of any state in the United States at the moment, and so there aren’t very many states that would need to go to the same lengths that we would to conform their laws,” said state Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe.

Other state senators joining her at the news conference were Angela Bryant, D-Nash, Jay Chauduri, D-Wake, and Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg.

Both House Bill 563 and Senate Bill 588, would remove requirements that abortions be performed in a certified facility by a qualified physician licensed in North Carolina; that an ultrasound image of the unborn child be provided to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; and that limited abortion after 20 weeks of gestation to medical emergencies.

Given the political realities of the legislature, which is dominated by conservative members of the GOP, the bills are unlikely to become law.

Despite the long odds against the bills, the ACLU of North Carolina hailed the Democrats’ move.

“A woman’s access to abortion care should not depend on her zip code or economic status. We must ensure that the right to an abortion is not just a right on paper, but is a reality for all people,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, in a written statement. “After years of harmful bills that have eroded North Carolinians’ reproductive freedom, the Whole Woman’s Health Act would codify a woman’s right to access abortion in North Carolina and help guarantee safe, respectful reproductive health care to women across our state”

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