Major Pro-Life Bill Moves Forward in NC General Assembly
State Lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would reduce the timeframe for most legal abortions in North Carolina from 20-weeks gestation to 12 weeks. The Care for Women, Children, and Families Act was discussed in a joint meeting of the State House and Senate Rules Committees on Wednesday morning and is expected to be considered on the floors of the State House and State Senate this afternoon. The proposal was rolled out in a conference report for Senate Bill 20, which initially proposed amendments to the state’s Safe Surrender of Infants law.
For over a year, NC Family has been advocating for a bill that would protect unborn life once a fetal heartbeat is detected, if not sooner. The proposal in SB 20, however, was designed as a compromise bill that would likely garner the supermajority votes necessary to override an expected veto by Governor Roy Cooper.
In testimony before the House and Senate Rules Committees this morning, NC Family President John L. Rustin stated, “In all honesty, this bill is not what we had hoped for and not what we had prayed for, but we do ask that you support SB 20. The reality is that this bill is a significant improvement over the current law. It will save thousands of lives every year; it will provide critical support to women and families facing unplanned and crisis pregnancies; it will help to ensure that women are fully informed about abortion procedures and alternatives to abortion especially with respect to chemical abortions; and it will provide $160 million to improve and support adoption, foster care, childcare, and other vital services. For these reasons, we ask that you support SB 20, the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act.”
The 46-page SB 20 proposes many changes including but not limited to the following:
- In addition to limiting most abortions at 12 weeks, SB 20 would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest up to 20 weeks, and would allow abortion for cases of a “life-limiting anomaly” up to 24 weeks. “Life-limiting anomaly” is defined as “the diagnosis by a qualified physician of a physical or genetic condition that (i) is defined as a life-limiting disorder by current medical evidence and (ii) is uniformly diagnosable.”
- SB 20 would ban “partial-birth abortion” as defined by federal law, and would prohibit abortions that are sought because of the race or sex of the unborn child or a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.
- SB 20 would require abortion clinics to be inspected annually and meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
- SB 20 establishes more detailed informed consent requirements for surgical abortions, chemical abortions, and abortions involving unborn children with a “life-limiting anomaly.”
- SB 20 would make it unlawful for abortion-inducing drugs to be provided to a pregnant woman by a physician or a drug manufacturer or supplier through the mail, and it seeks to prohibit the promotion and/or sale of an abortion-inducing drug over the internet.
- SB 20 would enact the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” requiring any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” It would also require that the newborn baby be transported to a nearby hospital for care.
- SB 20 would amend the state’s “Safe Surrender of Infants” law, and would make changes to enhance foster care, adoption, and child care in North Carolina.
- SB 20 also contains a provision to clarify, “Nothing in this act shall be construed as creating or recognizing a right to abortion, nor shall the act make lawful an abortion that is otherwise unlawful.”
If Senate Bill 20 is approved by the State House and State Senate in votes on Wednesday and Thursday, the bill will be sent to Governor Cooper for his consideration.