March 20, 2013, Raleigh—
Hundreds of activists rallied today in the state capitol to remind legislators “they don’t walk in every woman’s shoes.” The gathering took place one week after a new bill targeting women’s health was introduced. Introduced by Senator Warren Daniel (R, Burke, Cleveland), Senate Bill 308 amends North Carolina’s controversial and partially-enjoined 2011 so-called “Woman’s Right to Know” law. North Carolina’s mandatory ultrasound law was one significant piece of state legislation that women’s health advocates describe as a national “tidal wave” of anti women’s health bills passed during the record-breaking years of 2011 and 2012
Daniel’s 2013 bill, SB 308, signals that 2013 could be even worse for North Carolina women, if not for the determination by North Carolina women’s health activists to ensure no attack on women’s health go unanswered. Indeed, the advocates gathered for the “Not in Her Shoes Rally” say they are not willing to stand idly by while some members of the legislature work to erode the hard fought progress North Carolina has made in ensuring that women have access to health care, including safe and legal abortion.
“We’re ready and prepared to defend our patients’ access to healthcare,” said Paige Johnson, VP of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. “Pregnancy is a deeply personal and often complex experience for women. We are joined by women’s health supporters from around the state who want to send a clear message to their legislators: You are not in another woman’s shoes, so you can’t make pregnancy decisions for someone else,” said Paige Johnson, VP of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina.
The 2011 North Carolina law, also sponsored by Sen. Daniel, requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and place the image in the woman’s line of sight — even if she asks not to view it. The provider would then be required to describe the image in detail — even over the woman’s objection. The measure made no exceptions for women under any circumstances, including cases of rape, incest, or those who receive a tragic diagnosis during pregnancy.
Taking a page out of the Mississippi playbook that has the state’s last remaining abortion provider on the verge of closure, SB 308 includes a provision that doctors providing abortions at health centers have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Abortion is an extremely safe procedure with low risk of complications and is provided by medical professionals with rigorous patient safety guidelines in place. Requiring admitting privileges for the physicians who provide abortion procedures is, on the other hand, medically unnecessary and will not enhance patient safety.
The bill also includes restrictions on nonsurgical abortion, a category of anti-women’s health state legislation that national anti-abortion rights groups have called some of their “favorite strategies.”
Nonsurgical abortiongives a woman the option of a more private and what may feel like a less invasive method of ending a pregnancy, in a setting in which she feels most comfortable. The impact of SB 308 on nonsurgical abortion is unclear, demonstrating a lack of understanding by politicians like Senator Daniels of how doctors have been safely and legally providing nonsurgical abortion in North Carolina for more than a decade.
“Most North Carolinians think we should trust women, not politicians, to make personal decisions about reproductive health care,” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. “We couldn’t agree more, which is why we are coming together to remind NC lawmakers that every woman should be able to make the decision that’s right for her. At the end of the day, only she can decide.”
Many of the legislators who led efforts to stop the attacks on women’s health last session addressed the activists gathered, promising to continue to defend women’s health. Those legislators included Senator Floyd McKissick, Senator Gladys Robinson, Rep. Larry Hall, Rep. Deborah Ross, Rep. Rick Glazier and Rep. Alma Adams, chair of the House Democratic Women’s Rights Caucus.