This spring, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill that includes some significant pro-life measures, most notably limiting most abortions in North Carolina to twelve-weeks gestation. This process has been riddled with controversy and misinformation, but despite what some detractors are saying, this bill will truly protect women, children, and families.
This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Senator Joyce Krawiec and Representative Kristin Baker to discuss North Carolina’s newest pro-life law, and the impacts it is expected to have.
You can learn more about the pro-life law here.
This episode is a part of a series highlighting the pro-life movement in North Carolina. Tune in each week to learn more!
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. This summer marks one year since the US Supreme Court reversed its nearly 50 year old Roe v Wade decision that had legalized abortion on demand nationwide. We’re excited to bring you a series of interviews with North Carolinians who represent the many facets of the pro life movement here in our state. Today we’re speaking with State Senator Joyce Krawiec and State Representative Kristin Baker, two lawmakers who were instrumental in ushering in a life-saving law in North Carolina entitled SB 20—Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, a law that limits abortion to 12 weeks in our state. We’re also joined by NC Family legal counsel, Jere Royall. This episode is part one of a two part series. so make sure to tune in next week to catch part two. Well, our first question is to our distinguished lawmakers, thank you so much for your good work, could you start by telling us why this particular policy issue is important to you, Senator Krawiec?
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: This has been so important for so long, and we have prayed so long for Roe v Wade to be overturned that it was just a blessing to have the opportunity to work on legislation that will fit North Carolina and that will save babies in North Carolina. Long before I got into the Senate, I was working on this issue. So I feel very blessed having been in a place and time where we could get this done. So it’s an answer to a lot of prayers for many, many years.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Representative Baker?
REP. KRISTIN BAKER: Well, Traci, thank you. And I appreciate all you all are doing and it’s a pleasure to be with you. So as some of you may know, I am a child psychiatrist by training. So as a conservative Christian physician, this particular bill is extremely important to me. I, as a Christian, believe that the fingerprint of God is on every life at conception, and it’s something I’ve always believed, and I think we’ve all found it a blessing to have the opportunity now, with the overturn of Roe v Wade, to dialogue about this, and to reach out to try and save these lives. And I think that, in addition, as a physician, I understand the need for good medical care, no matter what path a person is pursuing. And then, of course, as a psychiatrist, understand the significant challenge of an unwanted pregnancy. When that happens, it’s traumatic, no matter what the circumstance. And so it’s been a privilege to be involved in these discussions as a psychiatrist to try and raise awareness that no matter what path a woman chooses, we absolutely need to support her. We need to support her emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and in a concrete manner in terms of taking care of the needs she and her baby will have as she journeys forward. So those are my, that’s my interest, and it’s been a privilege to work on this with my colleagues.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Well, let’s talk specifically about SB 20 entitled Care for Women, Children, and Families Act. It’s made headlines limiting abortion after 12 weeks of gestation, but of course it does a lot more than that. It’s also made headlines in some negative ways, which I think will be a nice opportunity for you to set us all straight on exactly what the law does. Senator Krawiec?
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: First let me go back a little bit and tell you how we crafted the legislation. We put a working group together on the Senate side, and we worked for months on crafting a legislation that would save babies, that would address the abortion issue in North Carolina, and would also going forward help moms be able to keep their babies to raise them and to have the things that they needed to make certain that they could keep those babies, to encourage them. So we put a lot of child welfare in there. We put a lot of workforce in there. We just did everything we could think of that would help moms with babies. We’re a very diverse group in the Senate, and we had some who wanted a conception bill, some who wanted the heartbeat bill, and then we had some who don’t want to do anything. And so we had to kind of walk a fine line to craft something that we could get the votes that would override a veto, which we knew would happen. So it was – a lot of thought went into it. A lot of discussion, the policy was probably the most difficult we’ve ever had to craft, because there were so many opinions, and it’s a very personal issue to many of us. So most of us, well all of us, were willing to talk to each other and just craft through something. My final thought was, “I’m going to take whatever I can get to save babies, whatever that might be, however many babies we can save, and that’s the bill I’m going to support.” And that’s how we ended up with SB 20. The final product, I think, was an excellent piece of legislation.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Okay, now it was immediately, almost, followed by lawsuit by Planned Parenthood, which, of course, is the largest abortion provider in North Carolina and across the nation. So tell us about that. What was that lawsuit about? Was there any merit to it? And how are y’all responding to that?
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: We knew there would be a lawsuit, so in crafting our legislation, we tried to do all that we could to make it as strong legally as we could, as well. The lawsuit was filed, the court – and I’m not a lawyer, so a lot of this is Greek to me – but the court seemed to think that there were some ambiguities, there were some things that weren’t very clear. So that was what we did yesterday, we tried to address some of those with some amendments. We want a piece of legislation that will withstand a court challenge, which we knew was coming. So we were trying to do whatever we can to make certain that it’s as strong legally as it can be.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Go ahead, Jere.
JERE ROYALL: Thank you. It was excellent how y’all responded so quickly in the Senate with members and staff, as a lawsuit, I know it was just filed a week ago. And that’s a wonderful part of how the legislative process works is allowing for technical corrections to be made in legislation. I know yesterday, that, like you say is what the very end of the session, that house bill that related to health and human services was an appropriate place for these corrections to be made in the pro life legislation. And as you’re asking Traci, what was done yesterday was a good, quick response to hopefully allow this law to go into effect, which it’s scheduled to do July 1st in part. Once again, Senator Krawiec was, well she’s been a leader on this legislation that she’s described all the way through. We work together with other groups trying to develop legislation, but they’re the ones who came together to put together legislation that could bring together people with different viewpoints. And that’s again, where her leadership and as she says, she’s been and others have been praying about this for years. And it’s where I believe, you know, God has placed her and others in the role that they currently are in to be leaders on this vital legislation.
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: And Traci, we felt so blessed to have so much support from the pro life community. And we knew the final vote on that bill, the pro life people were filled in the gallery, and it was such a blessing to us to have that support, because it was not what many of them wanted. They wanted a stricter bill, but they all came together and gave us the support that we needed to get it finally done. So we were so thankful for that.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: I understand that the difference between the Heartbeat Bill and the 12 week came down to a really close call. Can you tell us just how close that was,
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: I would say of our working group, there were more that wanted a heartbeat bill. And to those who wanted the heartbeat bill, that was already a compromise because they believe life begins at conception. So they were willing to compromise on a heartbeat bill at six weeks. But we had some that were not willing to do that, and we knew we had to have the votes, we could not lose one single vote because it wasn’t just that we have to get a majority it was that we have to have a supermajority to override the veto. So everybody was willing to come together to get whatever we could get to save as many babies as we could possibly save.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: This is happening all over the country, isn’t it? I know you’ve been very busy and focused on North Carolina laws, but we’re seeing some of this and other states across the country where they’re having to reevaluate what they thought was going to happen after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: Exactly. One thing that I found most interesting during the debate on SB 20, we constantly kept hearing that this legislation was going to shut down all the abortion clinics in North Carolina, and women were not going to be able to get abortions. I thought that was a tremendous admission that those centers are just not what they need to be, because the only thing that the legislation addressed was that they meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, which is exactly what they are. Yet they admitted very quickly and very loudly that this was going to shut down all abortion clinics in North Carolina. Well, that says to me that the other side is always saying they want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare, was all a farce. Because if you wanted those facilities to be safe, you would certainly have embraced that portion of the bill, if nothing else, rather than attack it.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Senator Krawiec, could you just give us a few more details on the provisions that are provided in the bill beyond the restrictions on abortion?
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: Some of the provisions that I was most excited about were the childcare. We put $60 million, I believe, in the budget for the things that we included in SB 20. There’s going to be a lot of childcare services for women, there are some educational avenues for them to attend school to get special training. We have parental leave for state employees. Just a lot of good things that moms need, and that aren’t available right now. And we want to make those readily available and for them to have access to them, and for them to know that they’re there. So that might even be their first choice is to keep their baby rather than to even consider abortion, if they’re aware of all of the things that are in the bill that will help them be able to take care of their babies and to plan for their future. It won’t be giving up their future – they can still go to college, they can still get their degree, they can still do what they had planned to do. We have a lot in there on adoption services, it’s very difficult to adopt. That’s why many people adopt from other countries, because it is difficult. We’re trying to streamline that process and make it much easier for folks who want to adopt.
JERE ROYALL: And the way I guess I would describe it is it truly is a comprehensive pro life bill. And just as it says in the title, it’s caring for women, children, and families. Obviously it is about the unborn child, but it’s also about the mother and their family. And just as you just described, a lot was put in the bill to care for the women and the families as well as the unborn child.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Jere, as legal counsel for NC Family, Senator Krawiec mentioned earlier about the coalition and how important that was, especially in getting the override to the governor’s veto. How important did you see that being as one of the people that was involved in that coalition?
JERE ROYALL: Initially, we worked together for over a year, a number of pro life groups and individuals trying to put together proposed legislation that we could take to leaders like Senator Krawiec to have as hopefully a helpful resource for them as they develop the legislation. And it’s interesting, our process was very much like theirs. We started out, everybody in the coalition understands not only from God’s word, but also from medicine and science, that human life begins at conception. But then, as in all lawmaking processes, you have to look at reality. But we realized North Carolina, being in a situation we are where the governor already had vetoed any pro life legislation, knew he would, needed a supermajority vote that the coalition agreed to pursue the heartbeat bill which move things out to six weeks. So then when we saw that reality was, the compromise might be a 12 weeks, it was a challenge for people just as Senator Krawiec said, but then he she said people had to realize if we can make progress, we need to be part of helping to make that progress happen. But everybody worked together, realizing, “Let’s be thankful that we can make progress,” and the idea that this legislation can, and hopefully will, protect 4000, 5000 or more unborn children, this is a step in the right direction.
SEN. JOYCE KRAWIEC: Traci, another really exciting thing for me, ever since I’ve been in the Senate, three different times I have filed and we run the babies born after an abortion attempt bill and it’s been vetoed every time and we were not able to override the veto. So that also was placed in this bill, several bills that we had passed independently before that didn’t make it through the override were in here. We also had the Safe Surrender Infants Act, extending to 30 days where you can surrender your infant, giving women more time to think about that. So I was really glad we were able to get that in there as well.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Senator Joyce Krawiec and Representative Kristin Baker, thank you so much for being such strong pro life voices in the North Carolina General Assembly. And of course the same to you, Jere Royall with the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Thank you all for being with us on Family Policy Matters.
– END –